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Michael Pitt: Berkshire jockey who killed himself was 'life and soul of the party'

A TALENTED young jockey who took his own life was the “life and soul of the party” and had a promising career in horse racing ahead of him, an inquest heard.

Michael Joseph Pitt, 19, was found hanged in a car wash in Hungerford just before 7am on Monday, July 5.

An inquest yesterday (Thursday) in Reading Town Hall told how Mr Pitt – an apprentice jockey at Warren Greatrex’s yard in Lambourn – was a “wonderful and caring son” who was enjoying life in the industry, but had taken his own life in a drunken, “out-of-character” moment.

Michael Pitt. (Credit: Facebook.)
Michael Pitt. (Credit: Facebook.)

Mr Pitt had recently gained an amateur licence to ride over jumps, and he had plans to travel to the United States of America with his mother, Amanda, and was “always looking out for people if they needed support”.

He had no history of depression or mental health issues, but the inquest heard how he often drank heavily and had been drinking even more in the weeks leading to his death.

The inquest heard how Mr Pitt used alcohol to help him sleep, but had been trying to quit drinking on weekdays to help with his riding.

On the evening of July 4, Mr Pitt had been drinking with friends in Hungerford and got into an argument before refusing a lift home from a friend and leaving alone at around 11pm.

He then made his way towards the Co-op petrol station in Charnham Street, calling his friend to ask if he had work tomorrow.

In a witness statement read out in court, the inquest heard how after leaving the pub Mr Pitt had been messaging his on-and-off girlfriend and had been distressed, saying he “couldn’t cope” with people twisting things against him, and was “sick of it”.

She had tried to calm him down and was asking why he had got himself into that state.

Mr Pitt then sent a video of himself from the car wash, saying he “couldn’t do it anymore”. His body was found the following morning.

Berkshire assistant coroner Jenny Goldring recorded a verdict of suicide on the balance of probabilities, although the inquest heard from Mrs Pitt who said she didn’t believe her son would have done it deliberately.

Summarising, Ms Goldring said: “This is the tragic death of a beautiful young man who was 19 and much loved by his friends and family and who, by all accounts, lived life to the full.

“He was popular, sociable and had a promising career ahead of him as a jockey.

“He had drunk an awful lot of alcohol and I think in that state, on the balance of probabilities, he intended to take his own life which he wouldn’t have done if he was sober because that’s not the kind of person he was.”

Anyone working in racing who needs support can call Racing’s Support Line 24/7 on 0800 6300 443.

Racing Welfare teams are also contactable during weekday office hours via the numbers below:

Lambourn: (01488) 670034

Malton: (01653) 696869

Middleham: (01969) 624123

Newmarket: (01638) 560763

For the Samaritans, call 116 123 (freephone, 24 hours every day)

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