Dubai: Former UAE champion trainer Dhruba Selvaratnam led the tributes to legendary British trainer Michael Jarvis who passed away on Tuesday, describing him as a "real gentleman".
Jarvis, whose career spanned almost 40 years, succumbed to cancer at the age of 73.
Selvaratnam told Gulf News yesterday that with his demise flat racing has lost one of the last surviving "old-school" trainers.
"It's very sad news, but he was quite ill," said Selvaratnam, who met Jarvis at his Kremlin House Stables earlier this summer. "I did not really get to talk to him a lot as he was rushing to hospital for his standard chemotherapy treatment.
"In all the years that I've know him I could see that he did not look his usual self, but he was typically upbeat and friendly.
"I shook his hand and wished him well. That was the last time I saw Michael."
Selvaratnam's friendship with Jarvis stemmed from the fact that both of them trained horses for Major General Shaikh Ahmad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Chief of Dubai Police and Public Security.
Jarvis in fact trained Shaikh Ahmad's Ameerat to win the English 1,000 Guineas in 2001, a victory that he attributed as his fondest racing memory.
Selvaratnam, who was present at Newmarket on that day, together with Shaikh Ahmad, recalled the moment.
"It was a great race, Ameerat just won by a neck from Godolphin's Muwakleh," he said. "Obviously it meant a lot for him to win a Classic but he was not over-excited.
"In all the years that I've known him he was a very controlled sort of man, very relaxed. He just shook everybody's hand after the race."
However, Selvaratnam recalled Javis' extraordinary work ethic.
"He had a way with horses, and was able to get the best out of them," he said. "He was very dedicated and patient.
"He really took care of Shaikh Ahmad's horses. They always were in top condition. Had it not been for his illness, I think he could have continued training for a couple more years. When he quit last winter it was a forced retirement."
Jarvis handed over control of his famous Kremlin House Stables in Newmarket to his assistant Roger Varian last winter. It was from there that he trained Shaikh Ahmad's Ameerat to win the 1,000 Guineas in 2001 and Morshdi to win the Grosser Preis von Baden in Germany and Derby Italiano in Italy.
During his illustrious career he also sent out Carroll House to land the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in 1989, Rakti to win the Champion Stakes (2003), Prince of Wales' Stakes and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2004) and Eswarah to win the Epsom Oaks in 2005 for Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance.
In an interview with the Racing Post earlier this year, Jarvis described Ameerat's win in the 1,000 Guineas as his fondest racing memory.
"It was on home ground here in Newmarket and it was my first Classic, but it was also for my best client," he said. "I later trained horses for the other [Al] Maktoum brothers, but Shaikh Ahmad was my mainstay."
Jockey Richard Hills, Shaikh Hamdan's retained jockey who rode Eswarah to win the Oaks, said: "Michael made work mornings fun and gave you a lot of confidence.
"My time with him was always fun and we were successful, which made it even better. That has been passed on to Roger [Varian]. A lot of the staff have been there [for] years, it was just sort of like a family. It is a very sad day."
Ex-England footballer turned champion trainer Mick Channon said he could not find the words to describe his admiration for Jarvis.
The trainer said on his website: "As a trainer he's up there with the very best, but as a man he was outstanding.
"He was kind, considerate and just a great bloke.
"Michael conducted himself with so much class it was frightening.
"His training record speaks for itself — he was brilliant, but as a man he was even better. My thoughts are with Gay and the girls. They've been incredibly strong throughout his illness and are a total credit to themselves and to a much loved, brilliant man."