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25th April 2020
It was plus 8 and dry first thing this morning.
Nico de Boinville text yesterday to say ‘Most disappointed with the blog today. Poorly written. Thought I was reading the New Statesman.'
Moving on..Today would have been the last day of the 2019/2020 jumps season and who knows Nico might have had a ride..
Sandown has to be one of our most spectacular racecourses, not for its position in the country as it is a nightmare to get in and out of, but for the fact that the famous railway fences are probably the best for watching horses jumping fences at speed.. Even though these fences are on the far side of the racecourse they are sideways, on so you can see them well..
They are tricky fences and come up very quickly and you need to have a good jumper; a mistake at any one of these fences can take a great deal of recovering from. The course has a stiff up hill finish and many a horse has jumped the last well clear only to be headed near the line.
The Whitbread Gold Cup was first run in 1957 and retained the name until it was sponsored by At the Races (2002–03), Betfred (2004–07) and now Bet365 (2008–).
It was 30 years ago that I first won the race with Mr Frisk..
Mr Frisk is the only horse to have won the Grand National and The Whitbread in the same year. Many have tried.
It nearly did not happen as I took Mr Frisk swimming with my neighbour Oliver Sherwood between the two races as a form of a change of scenery, and a way of trying to keep him fresh by doing something different with him…
He swam brilliantly, but when he came out of the pool he collapsed and started thrashing his legs in agony. The poor horse crashed to the ground, and was making the most awful roaring noises.. he was either is terrible pain or having a heart attack…
We called the vet thinking the worst… By the time the vet arrived he was slightly better, and with the help of a pain relieving injection he finally got up and seemed ok..
We gave him a couple of days being led out and he seemed fresh and happy so we started riding him again..
Blood and other tests were taken and frankly if you had not seen what had happened you would certainly not think anything was wrong..We carried on and kept training him ..
Marcus Armytage came over to Lambourn to ride him work on the straight mile grass gallop on the Tuesday before the big race. Mr Frisk looked well and as far as we were ceoncerned worked accordingly...He was never a good work horse..
Marcus had never ridden him at home in work before, so was suitably horrified as to how badly he worked, he then tried to persuade me not to run… I overruled him and we decided to run..
Marcus was not hugely impressed and I believe he did not try terribly hard to do the weight as he felt it was a waste of time.. he had had his big day..
There was huge pressure as Mr Frisk was not only favourite, but also now a well known horse and the added pressure of no horse winning the two races.. And frankly we might have looked greedy if we failed..
History will tell you that Mr Frisk probably put up his best race performance as he won easily.. He jumped off in front and was never headed and as far as I was concerned he jumped the best I had ever seen him jump.. It was a magnificent display of jumping..
Anyway Marcus was suitably thrilled and surprised by the performance…. Mrs Duffey, his owner, did not travel to see his run .. She stayed at home and attended The Maryland Hunt Cup instead..
We took Mr Frisk to Newmarket to have a thorough vetting to see why he behaved like he did when leaving Oliver’s pool.. It turned out that he had kissing spine.. bizarre for such a good jumper..
Swimming did more harm, as you or any animal swim holding their heads out of the water and as a result compressed your spine.. Mr Frisjk with kissing spine problems meant that his spinal bones started grating against each other....pain..
I will never forget that Whitbread, but having said that I was lucky enough to win the race a year later with Docklands Express.. In very different circumstances as he won in the Stewards room.. probably a travesty of justice but……
What was not a travesty of justice was Younevercall winning the bet365 Select Hurdle impressively last year.
Nick Cook who is involved in YNC will be Mondays guest on my blog..when he too takes up the mantle of Kim Bailey Racing Community spirit....
Have a great weekend and see you on Monday all being well.