Richard Aston, co-owner of Goldford Stud and one of the leading lights of the National Hunt breeding scene, died on Saturday at the age of 68 after recently being diagnosed with cancer.
A former amateur rider over jumps, Aston was also chairman of Bangor-on-Dee racecourse and previously a director of its neighbouring Chester racecourse for eight years. Among his many roles within the bloodstock industry, he was a former member of the TBA's National Hunt Committee and one of the driving forces behind the popular TBA National Hunt Foal Show.
David Futter of Yorton Stud, who worked closely with Aston on the National Hunt Committee, said on Monday, “Richard was a great ally to me, and a friend and confidant. I used to pick his brains and ask for his advice when I was buying stallions. He has been a big part of my life over the last 20 years and it's extremely sad.”
He added, “He was integral to the foal show. If it wasn't for Richard getting it organised and staging it at Bangor we would never have got it off the ground. He's been a great supporter of National Hunt breeding and very successful at it, and he's been taken well before his time.”
Broadcaster Nick Luck was also heavily involved with the TBA National Hunt Foal Show over the years, both as breeder and master of ceremonies, and he paid tribute to Aston on his Nick Luck Daily podcast, describing him as “a man of great knowledge, great humility, great humour, and enormous wisdom and insight.”
Leading National Hunt bloodstock agent David Minton also shared his thoughts on his friend on the podcast in conversation with Luck. He said, “[Richard] was a wonderful person. I've known him all my life really, as my father used to ride his grandfather's point-to-pointers.
“He was a very competent horseman in his own right. He rode winners and then commentated a bit, and then of course he set up Goldford Stud with Sally, which has become a tower of strength in the National Hunt business, both at Doncaster and at the Derby Sale, which they topped regularly.”
The Astons' hugely successful Goldford Stud in Cheshire has been the birthplace of a raft of decent jumpers, including Cue Card (GB) and, more recently, this season's Morebattle Hurdle winner Benson (GB). Though more readily associated with the National Hunt sphere, Goldford has also featured prominently at Flat sales and is home to mares owned by Allan Belshaw, breeder of G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Newspaperofrecord (Ire). In 2021, Goldford Stud sold her dam Sunday Times (GB) on Belshaw's behalf to Coolmore for 1.8 million gns, making her the third-top lot of the Tattersalls December Mares' Sale.
Richard Aston is survived by his wife Sally and son Charlie, to whom we extend our sincere condolences.