Liam Treadwell, the jockey who won the 2009 Grand National on the 100-1 shot Mon Mome, has died. He was 34 years old.
A statement put out by West Mercia Police on Tuesday said: “Earlier this morning police were called out to an address in Billingsley near Bridgnorth following the death of a man in his 30s. The death is currently being treated as unexplained. However at this stage there is believed to be no third-party involvement.”
In an interview on the 10th anniversary of his greatest victory, Treadwell recalled a sea of blank faces as he pulled up after crossing the line on one of one of the five horses in the history of the race, including Foinavon, to have started at such long odds.
He told Telegraph Sport: “I think everyone was as shocked at the victory as I was. It was a bit surreal. I started debriefing Venetia (Williams, the trainer) like I’d just won a little race at Plumpton and she said: ‘You’ve just won the Grand National, you don’t have to tell me how it unfolded.’”
His 10 minutes of fame was extended when Clare Balding, who was hosting Aintree for the BBC, referenced his teeth saying he "could afford to go and get them done now if he liked".
She had assumed they were the result of falls but it was a condition known as microdontia. However, the one person who was unbothered by her comments was the jockey but, as a result, a dentist picked up on it and offered him a free set of new teeth.
In the same interview he said: “It must be one of the kindest things she’s ever said – they’re still gleaming.”
However, it was a fall at Bangor in February 2016, in which he was knocked out for four minutes, which left him with headaches, impaired short-term memory and his concentration "all over the shop" that proved life-changing.
After that he was plagued by mental health issues and, finding the pressure of race-riding too much, he quit in February 2018. But one thing led to another, and a year later he was back in the saddle and happier than he had been for a long time.
Things really began to pick up last season when he joined Herefordshire trainer Alastair Ralph as jockey/assistant. The trainer was starting to go places and Treadwell was not only back in the winners again but Ralph gave him his point-to-pointers to train.
He was very open about his mental health issues and contributed to The Jockeys’ Association ‘Jockey Matters’ films on the subject.
Reflecting on the progress made by racing in recent years, he said: “It has come a long way with its understanding of mental health issues but it still has some way to go. Jockeys have this image of being indestructible. You get a fall, you get back as soon as you can, you’re fine, you stick your chest out and hold your chin up high.
“I love my cricket. Cricketers see sports psychologists the whole time but, if you told some trainers that you wouldn’t be in to ride out in the morning because you were seeing a psychologist, he’d ask ‘what’s wrong with you?’”
Williams, the trainer of Mon Mome, described Treadwell as one of the family.
“He was a lovely guy and rode umpteen winners for us,” she said. “It was Liam’s first ride in the National and the plan was to take the brave man’s route down the inside and he did it to the letter.”
In February, Treadwell was a pall bearer at the funeral of his former weighing room colleague James Banks who took his own life earlier that month.