Grand National-winning jockey Liam Treadwell died aged 34 after taking a cocktail of drugs, an inquest heard.
Treadwell, who rode 100-1 shot Mon Mome to win the 2009 National, was found dead at his Shropshire home last June.
He had suffered from depression after concussion from a fall four years earlier, had relationship issues, and missed seeing people during lockdown.
Coroner John Ellery recorded a verdict of misadventure, saying he could not be certain he intended to kill himself.
A post-mortem showed high levels of ‘drug toxicity’ in his body – predominantly an animal painkiller and class A drugs.
His friend and fellow jockey James Banks had taken his own life four months earlier.
Treadwell was a popular figure within racing, described by friends as being “polite, funny, kind and brave”.
At the inquest in Shrewsbury, members of his family brought two framed collages of photographs – one of which included the words ‘Always in our hearts – Liam Treadwell’.
The coroner said he had watched back the jockey’s victory on Mon Mome at Aintree, and said a family statement portrayed a “highly successful young man”.
The statement said his family were all very proud of him, that he had a great work ethic and was more interested in others than himself.
He suffered many falls during his career and showed great resilience, but may have downplayed any pain and anxiety he was going through – he once returned to riding just weeks after breaking his collarbone.
Treadwell suffered concussion in a fall at Bangor in 2016, which had left him unconscious for two or three minutes and meant he was unable to ride for six months.
“If there is to be one significant turning point, it seems to be that,” noted the coroner.
Treadwell was supported by the Injured Jockeys’ Fund but often felt “confused” and decided to retire from racing in 2018, the hearing was told.
On one occasion, he ended up in hospital after “drinking to excess” and he split from his wife Emily, although his outlook gradually improved and he returned to the saddle.
Treadwell said his life “had purpose again” after going to work for trainer Alastair Ralph in Shropshire, but he struggled with the on-off nature of a new relationship and missed seeing people during lockdown when racing was suspended.
“Liam didn’t enjoy long periods on his own,” said the statement.
Before his death, he had spent a period with his parents Lorraine and Mark, and younger brother Nathan, and had bought a new bicycle. He attended a jockeys’ get-together where friends said he was “in top form”.
“I really don’t believe it was Liam’s time to say goodbye,” the statement concluded.
The coroner said Treadwell took “a cocktail of drugs” on the evening of 22 June and sent a text to a friend alerting them to what he had done.
Friends checked on him that night and he had seemed lucid, but was discovered dead on the floor of his bedroom the following morning after he failed to turn up for work.
He had not left a note, and Elleray said there was no supporting evidence that he intended to kill himself.