15 Feb 2010

British author Dick Francis dies aged 89

8:09 am on 15 February 2010

Writer and former champion jockey Dick Francis, famous for his horse racing-based crime novels, has died at the age of 89.

He wrote some 40 best-selling novels during his career and his novels were published into 20 languages.

Francis first published his autobiography in 1957, and his first thriller, Dead Cert, followed five years later.

His most recent works, Dead Heat and Silks, were co-authored by his son Felix, the BBC reports.

He was also a champion jockey in the 1940s and 50s and the Queen Mother's jockey.

During his racing career, Francis's most famous moment was when his horse, Devon Loch, fell when he was close to winning to 1956 Grand National.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said the Queen would be "saddened" by the news.

The author was awarded a CBE in 2000 for services to literature.

Francis spent his final years in retirement in the Cayman Islands. His family says he died "of old age", the BBC says.