IT was Craig David who sung: “Sometimes in life you feel the fight is over…”
One or two of you might be feeling like that right now about the world of horse racing after the desperately gutting losses of L’Ami Serge and The Conditional at Ascot and Newbury over the weekend.
L’Ami Serge pulled up quickly after six flights of the handicap hurdle won by Shannon Bridge, while The Conditional came to a stop on the turn after the eighth fence in the Denman Chase landed by Secret Investor.
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To most racing fans both horses were old friends. Eleven-year-old L’Ami Serge was owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede and ridden for much of his career by Daryl Jacob.
Trained by Nicky Henderson, he won eight of his 34 starts including the Grade 1 Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil, or French Champion Hurdle, and Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle.
The Conditional, stable star for David Bridgwater, was a nine-year-old, and had raced 20 times land three races, including two hugely competitive handicaps at Cheltenham including at the Festival in the Ultima Handicap Chase of 2020.
Yes, The Conditional will have been the one every person at that yard thought might take them places they hadn’t been. From the owner, octogenarian Peter Cave, to the lads and lasses who graft away.
Indeed, only in this column last week I highlighted The Conditional’s Grand National claims.
Respect to both.
It’s times like these, despite the tough victory of Secret Investor, the promise of Champ, the skill of the Skelton’s, the promise of Jonjo O’Neill Jr, the stunning success of Mishriff and team, the battling heroics of Dashel Drasher, Jeremy Scott and Matt Griffiths, and the heartwarming romp of Goshen for Jamie and Lucie Moore, that could make a racing fan think is it all worth it?
But I tell you from the heart it is.
Some might seize this opportunity to crab horse racing. And even those who love it might doubt the sport. But hold on, just think for a minute.
It’s us, you and me, who are hurting here. We are the ones who care. We are the ones who will remember these warriors.
Yes, it’s us. The people who love racing.
And we know, more than anyone else, that without racing these stars would never have existed. Never have taken a breath of air. Never been cheered home. Never lives the life so many humans would dream of living.
So people the fight is never over. This is a sport to be proud of. An industry that will always try and do better.
But most importantly this is an industry that cares. We all care.
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