'Gifted' horseman took his own life after struggle with loss and anxiety

Epsom Derby Winner Golden Horn with handler Michael Curran during a photocall at Clarehaven Stables

Michael Curran with Epsom Derby Winner Golden Horn at Clarehaven Stables, Newmarket - Credit: Paul Harding/PA Images

An inquest into the death of award-winning stable lad Michael Curran, who handled winning horses at Royal Ascot and the Derby, has concluded.

The world of horseracing was shocked when the 54-year-old was found dead in his Exning flat on Thursday, May 21, 2020, and tributes poured in from jockeys and trainers alike.

Mr Curran, born in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders, spent nine years working for trainer John Gosden in Newmarket.

In 2014 he looked after Kingman, which won the Irish 2000 Guineas at Curragh and the St. James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, before handling Golden Horn the next year, winning the Derby and the Prix del l'Arc de Triomphe.

He last lived in a flat above Harraton Court Stables, owned by jockey and friend of 30 years Darryll Holland, who met Mr Curran age 15 at Barry Hills' Manton stables when they both worked there.

Epsom Derby Winner Golden Horn with Handler Michael Curran at Clarehaven Stables, Newmarket

Michael Curran with Epsom Derby Winner Golden Horn at Clarehaven Stables, Newmarket - Credit: Paul Harding/Pa Images

Mr Holland was the one who raised the alarm in May while on a trip to Canada, after failing to hear from his friend for two days and asked a colleague to check the flat.

The inquest into the horseman's death was held at Suffolk Coroner's Court in Ipswich on Tuesday, February 16, and heard from brother Welsh Curran, who said Michael loved family, music and dancing — the "most popular chap in the stables".

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Reports from the 54-year-old's GP and other healthcare professionals, told of how he had struggled with depression and alcohol use following the sudden death of his partner in a car crash in December 2017.

He was then assaulted in 2018 in an incident which left him suffering from anxiety, and told doctors of attempts to take his life in the years which followed the two traumas.

The court heard how he was regarded as a "fantastic" stable hand with above normal empathy for horses by those in the racing industry, but was struggling mentally.

Senior coroner for Suffolk Nigel Parsley concluded the cause of death to be hanging, and added: "Michael Curran died as a result of suicide. He was clearly a gifted horseman and well loved by many. His death is most certainly a tragedy."

If you need help and support, call Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s First Response helpline 0808 196 3494 or the Samaritans on 116 123. Both services are available 24 hours 7-days-a-week. You can also download the Stay Alive app on Apple and Android.

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