RACING has united in mourning after the passing of 'pioneering sportswoman' and top owner Virgina Kraft Payson at the age of 92.
Hailed as a 'wonderful lady' by top Irish trainer Jim Bolger, she died at her Payson Stud farm in Kentucky, US, on Monday.
Payson found fame on these shores with champion two-year-old St Jovite.
A narrow runner-up to Dr Devious in the 1992 Epsom Derby, the outstanding colt got revenge in amazing style in the Irish Derby later that month.
In one of the finest Flat performances ever seen, St Jovite thrashed his old foe by 12 lengths.
His winning margin and time have never been bettered.
And the following month he won his owner £261,000 with a six-length triumph in the King George at Ascot.
Legendary trainer Bolger recalled Payson's huge celebration after winning the Irish Derby.
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He told the Racing Post: "First of all I'd like to give my condolences to her husband and her three daughters.
"She was great fun, particularly the night that we won the Derby.
"She told me that we must celebrate and said to me, 'There's my credit card'.
"So we got into the Keadeen Hotel and I think half of Kildare was there.
"It was a great night, and it was my only night of revelry after winning a race. Usually we would go home, but not that night.
"She was a wonderful lady."
Payson entered thoroughbred ownership in 1970s with her late second husband Charles Shipman Payson.
In 1997 she was named Breeder of the Year by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.
But her interests extended far beyond racing.
She wrote five books on a load of different sports and flew hot air balloons, loved scuba diving, raced sled dogs and went big game hunting.
One racing fan remembering her incredible life said: "She did it all. She will be greatly missed."
Another commented: "You will be dearly missed."
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While one comment read: "Remarkable woman that I had the honour to train for.
"Stood behind a young unknown making her way in the world. God Speed Mrs Payson."
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