The distraught family of an Irish jockey who died in a suspected arson attack prepared themselves for the worst when he failed to show up for his races at the weekend.
Galway-born Jamie Kyne (18) died in a fire that ripped through a three-storey block of flats in Norton, near Malton, north Yorkshire, England, during the early hours of Saturday.
The blaze also claimed the life of young Scots jockey Jan Wilson (19) while another Irishman, Ian Brennan (20), managed to leap to safety from the inferno.
A local man in his 30s, who was arrested shortly after the fire broke out, was yesterday released by police on conditional bail pending further inquiries.
Police had not confirmed the identities of the two deceased last night, but Galway councillor Jarlaith McDonagh, a second cousin of Mr Kyne, said the family were in mourning.
Mr Kyne had won 29 races this year and a no-show at Haydock on Saturday did not tally with his outstanding commitment to the sport.
His parents, Gerry and Madeline, and his four brothers and younger sister are being comforted by relatives at the family's well known stud farm in Claregalway.
“While they still have no confirmation from police it was him, it is nearly certain that it was,” Mr McDonagh said yesterday.
“He was missing from his races yesterday, he didn't show up. They are absolutely devastated, it's a great shock.
“They really admired him. They always watched him racing on television. They were so proud of him.
“Even in Claregalway, particularly on a Saturday afternoon, the local bookies shop would be full of lads watching what he was riding and backing him.”
Mr Kyne was the third eldest of six children. He is survived by his brothers Jason, Francis, Brandon and Daniel, and by his sister Cassandra.
He was one of the most promising apprentice riders in the UK and pundits had tipped him for a career at the very top of his profession.
He was also held in great regard by his retaining trainer, John Quinn.
The alarm was raised when Mr Kyne failed to turn up for four booked rides at Haydock Park racecourse on Saturday morning.
Mr Quinn became aware of reports of a fatal fire and travelled immediately to the block of flats in the village of Norton, which was being used as accommodation for apprentice jockeys.
He was greeted by a scene of devastation. A blaze had ripped through the flats complex known as the Tannery and at that stage two jockeys were known to have died.
Sixty firefighters had battled the intense blaze, but were unable to reach the two young jockeys before they perished.
A third apprentice, Mr Brennan, had also been in the complex but managed to jump to safety and survived the tragedy unscathed. The 20-year-old was released from hospital in the early hours of the morning and bravely went on to ride at Thirsk just hours later.
Dean Pratt, also an apprentice rider attached to Quinn, was taken to York District Hospital and treated for burns and smoke inhalation.
York and Dundalk racecourses both observed a period of silence yesterday during its meeting to remember the two jockeys.
Leading jockeys, including Kieren Fallon and Mick Kinane, led tributes to two of their sport's rising stars.
Post-mortem examinations are expected to be carried out today and police are still probing a motive.