Beltrán Alfonso Osorio, 18th Duke of Alburquerque

18th duke of Alburquerque

In this Spanish name, the first or paternal surname is Osorio and the second or maternal family name is Díez de Rivera.

Beltrán Alfonso Osorio y Díez de Rivera, 18th Duke of Alburquerque, GE, OSL (15 December 1918 – 8 February 1994), also known as the Iron Duke of Aintree, was a Spanish peer and jockey. A profound monarchist, he was a close friend and confidant of the heir to the throne of Spain, the Count of Barcelona, who he served as the Head of his Household from 1954 to 1993.

Beltrán was born in Madrid to one of the great noble houses of Spain. At its peak, the House of Alburquerque held 18 titles in the peerage of Spain, 6 of which had the status of Grandee. His father, Miguel Osorio y Martos, 17th Duke of Alburquerque, was Gentilhombre Grandee of king Alfonso XIII while his mother was Inés Díez de Rivera y Figueroa, daughter of the Counts of Almodóvar, also Grandees of Spain. The closeness of the Dukes of Alburquerque to the kings of Spain had existed for many generations; the 8th, 15th and 16th duke had all been Mayordomos mayores or Heads of the Royal Household. Aspiring to become an engineer was soon frustrated by the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, which resulted in his enlistment in the cavalry of the nationalist faction, eventually becoming lieutenant colonel.

His passion for equestrianism emerged after he was given his first pony age 5. On his 8th birthday, his father gifted him with a newsreel clip of the 1926 Grand National. He thereafter became enthusiastic with the idea of competing in it. The duke quickly became one of the promising horse riders of his home club, Puerta de Hierro, rising to prominence when he competed at the 1952 Summer Olympics and later at the 1960 Summer Olympics. His jockey career began when he came second in the Sussex Stakes at Lingfield Park. Despite the duke's unhelpful physique (he was as tall as a basketball player), he finally rode the Grand National as "gentleman rider" in ...read more

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