A marvellous effort from One For Arthur to be sixth in the Grand National has lifted the yard and confirms that when met with challenges we can pull together and make the best of our horses.
Racing is an incredible sport, encompassing the love of horses, the true spirit of sport and providing all the emotions along the way. On Friday we hit the depths, when, having jumped around the Topham course faultlessly and with Derek sitting motionless about to make his move, Forest Des Aigles dislocated his fetlock and was pulled up. The catastrophic injury that he incurred was untreatable and he was quickly put to sleep.
I normally keep this website for news rather than a blog or emotion, but I must make an exception today. In those few minutes, my spirit was shattered and it was hard to control my grief. It is not a person, a child nor relation, but to go from the elation of thinking that we could win to the stark realisation of death was almost too much to bear. I am in such a privileged position to nurture wonderful horses, athletes who give their all and to do so for owners who are proper, strong, supportive friends. The team here provide joy and delight for so many and yet on Friday we crashed their world down with the loss of a kind talented horse owned by a racing family who are in the sport for the horse. The loss to everyone, none more so than Patrick, Forest's rider at home, and the team here who have nurtured Forest to produce him at the peak of his physical well being, was almost unbearable.
It took a strong ethic for everyone connected with the yard to face the next day. Yet, we had prepared Arthur as well as we could; his road to this year's race has had its potholes and bumps but, faced with problems we have pulled together, worked harder and I am so proud of the condition that Arthur is in. Jumping with enthusiasm and accuracy he was given a masterful ride by Derek who said that the slower early pace, followed by the quicker second lap was less than ideal for our stayer. However, as they came back over the Melling Road the last time, we were hopeful of a close finish as Arthur stormed around the field into fifth place at the last. From then on he stayed on at one pace to be sixth, given a considerate ride by Derek who knew that Arthur was still trying his hardest.
For all connected to Arthur, Debs, Belinda, Colin and Fraser his wonderful owners, to Derek and the full team here, thank you for giving me and so many of our followers exceptional memories, but really it is to all of the horses here that we owe our thanks; they are the reason that I train, and it is the challenges, the victories and the satisfaction that we are doing the best that make it so life affirming.
Pictured is what it means to lead back in your warrior after the National; Jaimie and One For Arthur