Harry to remember his dad with emotional visit
A RACING fan has tragically died from cancer just weeks before he was due to make a dream trip to the Cheltenham Festival, organised by the power of social media.
Stuart Lucock was sent complimentary tickets by the racecourse after his son Harry shared the devastating news on social media that his condition was terminal.
In response to the September 30 tweet, which had more than 13,000 interactions, there were many acts of kindness from members of the Gloucestershire racing community.
Trainers Martin Keighley and Fergal O’brien were among those to offer Mr Lucock a visit to their yards ahead of his planned day out on March 14, St Patrick’s Thursday, while others shared their own heartbreaking stories about how their families had been affected by the disease.
On Friday, Harry sadly let them know his dad, who had thyroid cancer which spread to his lymph nodes and lungs, had died at the age of 57.
“I would have paid absolutely everything to get him to Cheltenham,” said the 21-year-old. “Unfortunately it wasn’t to be.
“He was told on January 10 he only had a few days to live but he made it to February. He was so tough.
“When he saw the support from the racing industry he was thrilled to pieces. It was really kind of everyone to help.
“He was taken aback when the tickets arrived from the Home of Jump Racing. There are so many people to thank.”
A former parcel sorter for Royal Mail, Mr Lucock loved racing for as long as his son can remember.
They made trips to many greyhound stadiums together and he would enjoy putting on a small daily bet.
During the final weeks of his life, he was watching on TV and saw the amazing performance of Cheltenham Festival favourite Altior at Ascot on January 19.
His wife Kate, who was with him at St Francis Hospice in Havering-attebower near London, gave up her job as a betting shop manager for Betfred to be his carer.
“When we were there he was telling me all about his favourite racing memories,” Harry continued.
“He saw Desert Orchid win one of the King Georges at Kempton. He had been to Cheltenham once before, I think it was the New Year’s Day meeting.
“I didn’t think I would be able to visit without him, but when he was very ill he told me I should go in his honour.
“He wanted me to enjoy The Festival. That can be our treasured memory.”
Next month’s occasion will be extra poignant as Harry will be wearing the suit jacket his dad had specially made for the Cheltenham trip.
It was actually a gift from Rich Ricci, one of racing’s most prominent owners who heard about his plight and asked if he could help.
He sent his tailor Russell Howarth to measure up for a smart outfit and has now offered to refit the garment to Harry’s size.
The day before Mr Lucock passed away, they met up for a pint, as the original suit was ready.
“For someone like Rich Ricci, who is such a big name in the sport, to go and above and beyond for us in incredible,” added Harry. “He pretty much is Mr Cheltenham.
“Wearing dad’s jacket will be a lovely touch, it’ll be as if he is there with me. In his memory I’m going to attend The Festival every year without fail.”
A spokeswoman for Cheltenham
Rich Ricci sent his personal tailor to measure Stuart for a special outfit, which so Harry will now wear to Cheltenham