Leading jockeys led tributes on Sunday to two of the sport’s future stars who died in an apparent arson attack.
Jamie Kyne, 18, who was from Galway, and Jan Wilson, 19, perished in the fire that ripped through a three-storey block of flats in Norton, North Yorkshire, during the early hours of Saturday.
Eyewitnesses said Jamie Kyne and fellow apprentice Wilson, from Forfar in Scotland, were at a party when the fire broke out.
Kieren Fallon and Mick Kinane spoke of their sadness at the deaths of the teenagers.
Fallon, who like Kyne began his British riding career in the north of England, made his return from an 18-month suspension on Friday.
The six-times champion jockey said: “It is very sad and my heart goes out to the family, friends and relatives of the poor kids. “It is something you don’t like to see in racing or in any other sport.”
Kinane, one of the elder statesman of the weighing room, won Saturday’s Irish Champion Stakes aboard the brilliant Sea The Stars.
He said: “I was very, very saddened to hear the news before racing at the sad loss of the two young riders. I would like to express my deepest sympathies to their families.”
Kyne was apprentice to Malton trainer John Quinn, whose yard is in mourning.
Sean Quinn, the trainer’s son and assistant, said in a tribute on Facebook: “Our family will be doing everything we can to help the cause, mate, and we will stay in touch with your family.”
The family of Galway-born Kyne said they were devastated and shocked.
His parents, Gerry and Madeline, and his four brothers and younger sister are being comforted by relatives.
Galway councillor Jarlaith McDonagh, a second cousin of the young jockey, said it was difficult to come to terms with what happened.
“They are absolutely devastated, it’s a great shock,” he said. “It’s a terrible tragedy for the family. They really admired him. They always watched him racing on television. They were so proud of him.
“While they still have no confirmation from police it was him, it is nearly certain that it was him.”
Wilson had been due to ride Imperial Sword, owned by her mother, Margaret, at Thirsk on Saturday.
As soon as she was old enough to leave school, the aspiring rider headed south to Newmarket for a nine-week course at the British Racing School.
From there she moved to Ferdy Murphy’s National Hunt yard in North Yorkshire in October 2007, and later moved to David Barron’s yard as an apprentice.
Murphy said: “Sometimes you get up on a morning and you have a horse lame or a horse with a cold, but this just puts it all into perspective.”
Barron added: “I’ve been around a little while now and I can honestly say I’ve never felt as bad over anything as I do over this. When you think about racing at a time like this, it just doesn’t matter a damn.”
Kyne’s friend and fellow apprentice, Ian Brennan, was also in the third-floor flat and jumped to safety when the fire surged through the building at 2.15am.
The 20-year-old was released from hospital in the early hours of Saturday morning and went on to ride at Thirsk.
Dean Pratt, also an apprentice rider attached to Quinn, was also taken to York District Hospital and treated for burns and smoke inhalation.
At the scene of the blaze, a number of people came to lay tributes as those living around the flats complex spoke warmly of the two victims.
According to a resident, about four or five people from the fire-affected block had been out on Friday night to celebrate getting their “pool money” from one of the local trainers.
He said they came back to the flats and continued to celebrate on the top floor, where best friends Kyne and Brennan lived.
There were six people in the block at the time – Kyne, Wilson, Brennan, Pratt, another man and another woman.
York racecourse observed a period of silence on Sunday during its meeting to remember the two jockeys.
Racing’s governing body in Britain expressed sympathy to the friends and family of Kyne and Wilson.
A British Horseracing Authority statement said: “Racing has lost two young jockeys who had already shown so much promise and talent.
“Our thoughts and sympathies are with their families and friends.”
Kevin Darley, chief executive of the Professional Jockeys Association, said: “Jamie Kyne and Jan Wilson were well on their way in their careers as jockeys. The thoughts of everyone in the weighing room go out to their family and friends.”
A statement issued by the Irish Jockeys’ Association read: “Jockeys know, and come to accept, the many risks they face on a daily basis in their career. But to lose two young talents in such a manner seems an unfortunate waste of life.”
Kyne partnered only eight winners last season – but really came into his own this term, securing 29 victories in 2009.
He claimed his last ever winner when Quinn’s Duchess Dora landed a five-furlong sprint at Beverley on Bank Holiday Sunday.
A local man, in his 30s, who was arrested shortly after the fire broke out, was released by police on conditional bail pending further inquiries.
North Yorkshire Police have not yet confirmed the identities of the two victims, but said two bodies were removed on Sunday morning from the second floor of the property.
Post mortem examinations are expected to be carried out on Monday.
Specialist fire investigation officers were examining the scene to establish the exact cause of the fire, which could take up to three days to complete.
Further searching of the flats was taking place to ensure there were no further casualties, although there were no reports of anyone missing.