Archive for the ‘thoroughbred horse’ Category

There were some great races (San Felipe, the fabulous Tough Sunday, Justify, etc.) the weekend of March 10, 2018 in the USA. But for me, THE story of that weekend had nothing to do with horse races.

(NOTE: No graphic images or footage of horse slaughter in this article.)

On March 9, shortly after she posted this video (above), I picked up a tweet from Dina Alborano of http://www.icareihelp.com that 24 thoroughbreds had arrived at the Thompson kill lot in Louisiana, shipping in from Delta Downs with the order to “direct ship” to Mexico. (“Direct ship” means that they would not go to auction but ship straight to slaughter.) At least seven were “fresh off the track.” Thompson wanted to sell them as a lot at $875 USD a head, or roughly $20k USD before expenses like shipping and quarantine are added.

That they all came from Delta Downs was no shock to me. Shipments from this track are all too frequent, arriving with a horrible punctuality throughout their racing season. This “herd” of thoroughbreds had shown up on the final days of the flat racing season at Delta Downs. No coincidence there.

I am not naïve: I know that horse slaughter didn’t begin in the last decade. I have rescued horses, written to the Prime Minister of Canada and the Canadian Minister of Agriculture about the slaughter of horses in Canada, protested at one of Quebec’s three horse slaughter plants, and publicized the fact that, since 2015, any horses destined for slaughter whose meat is exported to the European Union (EU) must be resident in the country where they are to be slaughtered for a minimum of 6 months before they die.

This has resulted in a 38% drop in the production of horse meat in Canada since this EU directive came into effect.

Jockey MIKE SMITH has offered financial support to rescuer DINA ALBORANO.


XBTV’s ZOE CADMAN has also provided much needed support.

The argument used with great success, first by organizations like the Canadian Horse Defense Coalitiom (a nonprofit that has battled the issue on the frontlines for many years) was to inform horse meat consumers worldwide that the thoroughbreds and standardbreds they were eating were rife with chemicals harmful to human beings. Humane arguments didn’t get the job done. Threatening the health of human beings did. The response from the EU was so emphatic that one of Quebec’s slaughter houses hasn’t rendered a horse for consumption since April 2017, principally because they have no interest in feeding and caring for horses for 6 months before they render them into meat.

But despite the efforts of huge numbers of rescues and individuals, horses — from the wild mustang to a child’s pony — remain under attack. However, the presence of social media also means that the flagrant abuse and practice of sending horses to slaughter has gone public for all to see:

BEAR WITNESS (Skip Away ex. Lady’s Secret by Secretariat) at auction in 2015. I would have thought that any horse with these bloodlines would have been safe. But I was wrong: “BEAR” was purchased by a young couple and, despite their valiant efforts, died of the abuses he had sustained.


Before I read Dina’s post, I had had a few weeks of optimism about the plight of thoroughbreds who end up in the slaughter chain.

Rick Porter, owner of superstars like Songbird, Havre de Grace, Hard Spun and Eight Belles, had announced the formation of the National Thoroughbred Welfare Organization (NTWO), an organization he initiated to resolve the issue of thoroughbred slaughter by working proactively with racetracks, trainers and owners. As well, the NTWO intended to set up a national information and help hotline. A central goal was to work cooperatively with rescue groups and individuals to plug the flow of thoroughbreds that end up in kill pens on their way to Mexico or Canada.

The announcement brought me to tears.

I have been a “horse nut” my whole life and come from a family that owned champion horses and ponies. My father, who was a British Commando during WWII and later trained to be a veterinarian, raised us with the understanding that when you own an animal you take responsibility for it — from the beginning to the end of your time together. It was a cardinal rule in our family, never to be broken.

Finally, here was a key figure from the sport who held the principle of responsible ownership to be paramount. A man who had the courage to step up and give thoroughbreds — and so many people like myself — a voice.

On February 28, 2018, in The Blood-Horse, Rick Porter was interviewed by eminent senior journalist and HOFer, Steve Haskin, himself a proponent of responsible ownership and thoroughbred aftercare:

“…Through the efforts of the NTWO, Porter says the solution to the “feedlot extortion” problem is to secure discarded horses before they end up in the hands of feedlot owners and slaughter buyers. In the short term, this may require watching over the small auctions where these horses are funnelled, and outbidding slaughter buyers. The long-term solution is to stop the pipeline flow at the source, which is at the track.

‘No track should knowingly allow or turn a blind eye to trainers on their grounds who are turning over horses to potential slaughter,” Porter said. “The tracks who allow this are doing a great disservice to the sport.’ ” (Steve Haskin interview with Rick Porter, The Blood-Horse, February 28, 2018)


“Feedlot extortion” is nothing new and kill buyers continue to make a huge personal income from it all over North America.

It is this sad reality that fuels the argument of the many thoroughbred and horse rescues in the USA and Canada that the place to rescue horses bound for slaughter is before they reach the kill lots. Their reasoning is that by funding kill buyers, enough capital is generated to allow these same buyers to purchase still more thoroughbreds, standardbreds, horses of all types, as well as ponies and burros for slaughter. Too, kill buyers can often afford to outbid rescue teams and individuals at auctions.

By the time they arrive in kill lots like Bastrop or Thompson’s, the prices set on their heads are far in excess of what any horse, pony or burro would bring at auction or sell for to slaughter houses. This trend makes the argument of rescues a sensible one that should, in theory at least, be effective in taking on the kill buyer conduit of the slaughter industry.

Trainer GRAHAM MOTION and his family have provided financial support for rescues by DINA ALBORANO and her Warriors.

But the problem here is that some owners, race tracks and trainers don’t play by the rules, as the 24 thoroughbreds filmed in the Thompson kill lot, marked “direct ship,” attest. In their specific case, it is fair to speculate that at least one individual on the Delta Downs backstretch, with the support of owners and trainers and the collusion of Delta Downs, is prepared to get thoroughbreds off the track and out of the country without a single thought to their rehabilitation and re-homing. “Direct Ship” also means that none of “The 24” would be auctioned, making it impossible for the many outstanding rescue groups to rescue them.


However, for “The 24” in a kill lot in Louisiana on March 9, 2018, none of these arguments mattered. Many were youngsters and most were terrified. Some just hung their heads, sensing that something new and not very good was happening to them.

For a nascent organization like NTWO, news of their arrival at the Thompson kill pens had to be as deeply disturbing as it was for the warriors that work with rescuers like Dina Alborano. There was little that NTWO could do while in the midst of setting up an organizational structure that should, in the long run, make a difference for many thoroughbreds at-risk. And although it is tempting to believe that “saying it makes it so” this is a misconception. Important work requires that solid structures are put into place — and this takes time.

Time that “The 24” didn’t have.


Even Dina Alborano herself was overcome by the amount it would take to get them out. But, like those standing with her, she shored up her courage and marched on.

And so it began.

All weekend, people from as far away as Great Britain stepped up to help save “The 24.”

Dina sounded the charge, but the vast majority of her warriors were not made up of wealthy horse owners or breeding farms or trainers. Instead, they were people of modest means, many of whom could only afford a donation of $10 or $20 dollars. Some were unemployed, some were retirees on fixed incomes, others were working at jobs where they weren’t bringing home as much as the thoroughbreds they wanted so fervently to save were going to cost. Those with little financial means began a Twitter storm, getting the word out to more and more people.

It was an interminable weekend, with each and every one of those determined to save “The 24” watching, re-tweeting and sending out words of encouragement that lit up the darkness.

Shortly before midnight, on March 11, came the words we were all waiting to see:

All of us watching and waiting were also “literally in tears.”  A band of modest means, with the help of those like Colorado Avalanche’s Erik Johnson and thoroughbred owner, Michael Cannon, had raised 30k in a little less than 3 days. I would also add that there were some “anonymous” donors from the sport/industray.

This was arguably the most dramatic but not the first rescue by Dina’s warriors. And some in the thoroughbred community had already provided vital financial support that saw several other thoroughbreds escape slaughter, among them the Zayat family, the Graham Motion family, jockey Gary Stevens and his wife, jockey Mike Smith, XBTV host, Zoe Cadman, and members of the handicapping community.

Jockey GARY STEVENS and his wife supported rescues spearheaded by Dina Alborano.


The family of AHMED ZAYAT have also provided financial support.

I can only imagine what so many gave up to save 24 horses they didn’t own –and hadn’t profited from at the track — and would never even meet face-to-face. And, for this writer, the determination, sacrifice and commitment of this community will stay with me forever, just as do memories of other rescues and individuals who have overcome huge obstacles to pull thoroughbreds, standardbreds, BLM mustangs, wild burros, draft horses and minis from slaughter lots. Not to mention those sanctuaries, havens and OTTB organizations who have provided homes and new careers for unwanted and captured horses.


It was bizarre reading Twitter posts during the campaign to save “The 24”: sports racing correspondents twittered on, seemingly oblivious, while farms posted thoroughbred foals struggling to take their first steps. All this sandwiched between news of the drive to pull “The 24” out of a certain, terrifying death.

The late John Berger observed that there is a kind of “quiet insanity” in our culture – the kind that allows us to watch 24 thoroughbreds on their way to slaughter, juxtaposed with a video of the running of the San Felipe, and not bat an eyelash. Nor do most consider this disturbing response odd.  Perhaps that’s because this type of juxtaposition has become so much a part of our daily lives that we’ve adapted by snuffing out our obligation to question it, barely seeing a seemingly endless barrage of horrendous events.

Consigned to slaughter “…because her hooves needed trimming.” From the blog of the CANADIAN HORSE DEFENSE COALITION.

Make no mistake: events like the perilous journey from stall to kill lot of “The 24” are horrendous. For one thing, there is no connection between euthanasia and slaughter. Like thousands before them, the imminent death of “The 24” would be merciless. But even this appears to have no impact on those owners, trainers and race venues like Delta Downs which routinely engage in the practice of shipping thoroughbreds to slaughter.

A mare and her foal at a slaughter house. Shortly after this photograph was taken, they were “disposed of.”



Laws make it easy to dump a horse, or a pony, or a burro into a kill lot.

In most countries around the world, not only do equines fall outside the laws that govern the slaughter of animals raised for human consumption, but they are also viewed as “property” under the law. Like a sofa, or a pair of shoes, animals are essentially characterized as objects, i.e. void of feeling, consciousness or any other of the qualities that make the living distinct from the inanimate.

And, as objects, their owners can do what they like to them with impunity.

American horses held in export pens before being sent to slaughter.

Under the conventions of the EU all animals are regarded as sentient beings rather than property: “Animals are not things. They are sentient beings and have biological needs.” There are inspectors to supervise and fines levied for the mistreatment of any animal. In Great Britain, there is a law essentially saying the same thing and plans are now underway to monitor slaughter plants with CCTV. In Canada, the province of Quebec has declared animals to be sentient beings even though three of of five Canadian horse slaughter plants are in that province. What it means for horses slaughtered in Quebec is that how this is being done is now open to supervision (together with the six months boarding demanded by the EU). But the fact that, in Quebec, being sentient does little to protect them from slaughter points out that even this progressive step can’t stop the practice itself.

Horse meat coming from Mexico was banned by the EU in 2015. It also appears that the majority of Mexicans have little interest in eating horses. So why is Mexico quickly becoming the preferred destination for American horses going to slaughter?

In its 2015 ban, the EYU pointed out that one deep concern was that The U.S. Department of Agriculture “does not take responsibility for the reliability of affidavits issued for horses originating in the U.S., and the FVO audit team found very many affidavits which were invalid or of questionable validity, but were nonetheless accepted.” Mexico has adapted to losing EU business — with the exception, it would seem, of Belgium which is ironically the capital of the EU — by attracting markets in Russia, Japan, Hong Kong, Egypt, Kazakhstan and Vietnam, among others. The meat is exported from Mexico as “top grade” and consumed by people in these countries looking for a “delicacy” dish.

It should be noted as well that Alberta and Manitoba, in Canada, are busily exporting large numbers of draft horses who are shipped live to Japan, where they are slaughtered. There can be little question that the Japanese have more confidence in the “high grade” of Canadian horses than that of those coming from Mexico.

(NOTE: No slaughter images in video below.) Produced by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC):


Since there is absolutely no evidence to support the practice of placing horses who are likely filled with drugs harmful to humans in quarantine in Mexico, it cannot be assumed that horse meat in those countries importing it is safe for human consumption.

It would be an important initiative to inform these countries about what, exactly, they are allowing their citizens to eat. Such communication might very well result in an EU-type ban.


This is the point where I’d normally be writing a conclusion, except there is no end in sight.

Instead, I will conclude by thanking the many rescues, sanctuaries, havens and individuals, including donors and supporters, who have given so much of themselves in this struggle to save horses, ponies and wild burros from slaughter, captivity and abuse. And to Mr. Rick Porter and Mr. Steve Haskin, both of whom have had the courage to speak out against the kind of practice seen here at Delta Downs and elsewhere, thank you for your courage and for speaking out for thoroughbreds who have no hope of a safe future.

As Maya Angelou has said, “YOU are enough” … to bring change and make a difference, through your voices, your commitment and perseverance, and your love.

“Untitled,” by Abigail Anderson. Property of the artist.


Background on Japanese slaughter houses, giving addresses and URL of these facilities. (NOTE: No images of actual slaughter). Produced by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC):




Anna Sewell wrote about cruelty in a book that has become a Classic:


**********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************NNOTE: THE VAULT is a non-profit website. (Any advertising that appears on THE VAULT is placed there by WordPress and the profit, if any, goes to WordPress.) We make every effort to honour copyright for the photographs used in our articles. It is not our policy to use the property of any photographer without his/her permission, although the task of sourcing photographs is hugely compromised by the social media, where many photographs prove impossible to trace. Please do not hesitate to contact THE VAULT regarding any copyright concerns. Thank you.





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What more can we say about this wonderful mare? Well, let’s have a look in “7 clicks” — just for fun.


CLICK #1: “…I think I remember saying to Chris (Waller), ‘Do you really like her?’ ” (one of the triad of Winx owners, Peter Tighe)

So it was that the daughter of Street Cry-Vegas Showgirl came to the stables of one of Australia’s outstanding trainers, Chris Waller. Owners Peter and Patty Tighe, Debbie Kepitis and Richard Treweeke were overjoyed at their purchase.

But had they asked Coolmore Australia’s stud manager, Peter O’Brien, who had attended the filly’s birth, he would have told them that from the outset Winx showed signs that she was going to be a late developer, even though she looked a really good individual in other ways.

During her days at Coolmore, Winx was easy to notice: she stood within 10 minutes of her birth, showed a great deal of independance very early on, and was blessed with a kind nature.

WINX at two days old. Photo and copyright: Coolmore.


Peter O’Brien’s understanding that it would take Winx some time to mature and show what she really was all about proved timely: Winx’s cavalry charge to the top of the world’s standings only started in earnest in 2015, when she was a four year-old.

It is likely that, had she gone to anyone other than Chris Waller, Winx would never have been given the time she needed to become the mighty mare we know today. And Winx’s owners were also prepared to wait, trusting in their trainer’s knowledge and experience.


CLICK #2: A surprise in Winx’s tail female


Winx’s dam, Vegas Showgirl, started thirty-five times, winning seven and retiring with earnings of $59,700 AUD. It is fair to say that she was not a household name, but she did win twice as a three year-old making her a solid, if not assured, broodmare prospect. Examining Vegas Showgirl’s tail female, what leaps out is Obeah in the third generation.

OBEAH, shown here with her trainer, Henry Clarke. Source: Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred.

A grandaughter of 1943 Triple Crown winner, Count Fleet, Obeah raced for Harry and Jane Lunger out of Henry Clarke’s Delaware Park stable. Notable wins came in the Blue Hen Stakes and the Delaware and Firenze Handicaps.

But North American racing fans know Obeah best for one reason and one reason alone: she was the dam of the brilliant, ill-fated Go For Wand:

Pedigree influences up to the fifth generation carry some influence — although how much, exactly, is almost impossible to determine. But it’s a safe bet that North American fans of Winx will be delighted to learn that a small part of her DNA comes through Count Fleet and that she is a cousin, albeit a very distant one, of the beloved Go For Wand.


CLICK #3: How did Winx get her name?

According to owner Richard Treweeke, Winx’s name owes much to Vegas Showgirl. In an interview done by 60 Minutes Australia (below in Bonus Features), Treweeke recounted how, when one sees a stage show in Las Vegas, the showgirls give you a “…wink, wink, wink.”

So, with a slight adjustment, Vegas Showgirl’s filly became Winx.



CLICK #4: What individual attributes help Winx to win — and keep on winning?

It has been speculated that Winx’s heart and lungs hold greater capacity than most thoroughbreds.

But one thing — other than her steely determination to win — that gives Winx a decided advantage has to do with her racing form, or style.

Granted, Winx’s running style isn’t the most fluid. Rather, she can look at times as though she has egg-beaters for legs.

But this is where what we think we see can be deceiving.

For one thing, the length of Winx’s stride has been measured at almost 6.8m. The stride of most thoroughbreds is about 6.1m. Exceptions are Phar Lap and Secretariat at 8.2m and the mighty Bernborough was said to have a massive stride of 8.6m.

But it’s not only Winx’s stride that helps her get the job done: whereas most thoroughbreds have a stride frequency of 130-140 strides per minute, Winx checks in at nearly 170 strides per minute. And she can maintain this frequency for much longer periods, notably as she kicks for home, a point in any race where most runners are tiring.

This short video of her win in the Sunshine Coast Guineas in 2015 highlights the impact of Winx’s stride and its frequency. The 2015 Guineas win also marks the beginning of Winx’s winning streak that now stands at 23 straight wins, 17 of which have been Group 1’s:


CLICK #5 : Winx and Hugh Bowman

Hugh Bowman is a jockey at the pinnacle of his career. But his promise showed even during his apprentice days, receiving the crown for champion apprentice NSW jockey in his very first year of riding, and champion Sydney apprentice followed in 1999/2000. The 37 year-old was awarded Longines’ 2017 Best World’s Jockey at the end of last season, having won 10 of the world’s Top 100 Group/Grade 1 races, six of which were on Winx. It was Bowman’s masterful win in the 2017 Japan Cup aboard Cheval Grand at Tokyo Racecourse that sealed the Longines’ title. Among the champions they beat in the Japan Cup were HOTY Kitasan Black and champions Makahiki, Soul Stirring and Satono Crown.

So strong is trainer Waller’s faith in Bowman, that Winx was withdrawn from what would have been her first start of the season (in the 2018 Apollo Stakesin Sydney) when a suspension made it impossible for Bowman to ride her. Unlikely that few were surprised by Waller’s decision, since Bowman and Winx are an established partnership at this point in time and no-one other than her inner circle knows the mare as well as Bowman. Famous racing pairs dot the history of thoroughbred racing worldwide and these powerful relationships underscore the importance of finding just the right fit between a jockey and a thoroughbred.

Here, in footage collected in February 2018 at a trail at Randwick,we catch a glimpse of some of the relationship between Winx and Bowman, as well as that between Bowman and Waller. The video also illustrates the complexities of conditioning a thoroughbred and, in this aspect, sheds a light on the profession that is universal.

(Note: Footage from the cam recorder picked up during Bowman’s ride comes at the end of the video.)


CLICK #6: Umet Odemisioglu  wanted to be an actor…

After her most recent win, in the 2018 Chipping Norton, an emotional Chris Waller noted that professional as she is, Winx loves to go home where “…she can just be a horse.”

And there’s no question that Umet Odemisioglu and Candice are the two of the humans that make Winx feel that she’s home.


WINX with Umet Odem.

Born in Turkey, Umet is Chris Waller’s foreman and one of Winx’s strappers. The champion mare is one of some twenty thoroughbreds in his care.

But his path to Winx’s side was an unlikely one: Umet’s first love was film. He studied acting for two years in Turkey before attending what he describes as a “horse university” in Istanbul. Once he’d graduated, Umet left for Ireland, where he worked on a stud farm until his arrival in Australia in 2006. He has worked for trainer Chris Waller since 2011.

Umet has looked after Winx since she first arrived in Waller’s barn as a youngster. If she were an actress, he figures Winx would be Angelina Jolie because, “…they’re both sweethearts, especially Angelina with the charities. They’re both box office superstars who bring in the crowds.” (quoted in “Strapper Recalls Winx Journey” by Matt Kelly in G1X)

Back at home after a trial or a race, Winx doesn’t like to be bothered — she likes lots of time to herself. And it is Umet who assures that the mare’s down time is just that. On big days, it’s Umet who brings her into the spotlight, equipped with hood that blocks out some of the sounds of the track.

Winx is no lover of the starting gate and Umet, together with Candice, as well as her trainer and jockey, each play their part in keeping her off her toes as much as they can before the gates fly open. He walks close to her, letting her know that he’s there and focusing on keeping the mare as calm and relaxed as possible. And this is no easy job when you’re assailed by cameras, together with the noise and movement of a huge, jostling crowd.

Winx may be used to the attention, but Umet needs to be able to anticipate what she’s not used to seeing. It’s a big part of keeping her safe.

(Note: To learn more about Winx’s second strapper, Candice, please see BONUS FEATURES, below.)


CLICK #7: The “Paradox of Champions”

The excitement that characterizes each time a champion like Winx races is fuelled by the risk of her losing. This is what we have coined as the “paradox of champions.”

All those feelings — “Can she do it again?” “Will X defeat her?” “Can she win no matter the odds?” “Is she ready for today’s race?” — are underpinned by the anxiety that Winx may, indeed, be beaten. Even the speculation that her owners might consider Ascot or Hong Kong or Japan or the 2018 Breeders’ Cup is underpinned, to some extent, by the lure of the risk.

It is this paradox that accounts for analogy between the careers of great thoroughbreds and the archetypal hero/heroine’s mythical journey. Like the heroine of myth, Winx needs to keep overcoming obstacles, be they foreign courses or other talented thoroughbreds to guard her title of one of the very best worldwide.

At this point, no-one knows what the 2018 plans are for Winx, in what may well be the last season of a brilliant career.

But, thankfully, it seems clear that Winx herself will be foremost in making that decision.













**********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************NOTE: THE VAULT is a non-profit website. (Any advertising that appears on THE VAULT is placed there by WordPress and the profit, if any, goes to WordPress.) We make every effort to honour copyright for the photographs used in our articles. It is not our policy to use the property of any photographer without his/her permission, although the task of sourcing photographs is hugely compromised by the social media, where many photographs prove impossible to trace. Please do not hesitate to contact THE VAULT regarding any copyright concerns. Thank you.


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As CHELTENHAM 2018 approaches, we re-visit one of the most popular posts THE VAULT has ever done. This is the story of the incomparable ISTABRAQ, the medoicre flat runner with royal blood who would rise to the status of a Superhero in the history of the British National Hunt.



Charlie Swan and ISTABRAQ retire from the 2002 Championship at Cheltenham amid the applause and tears of thousands.

…..When the young jockey pulled up the 10 year-old bay gelding after the third hurdle of the 2002 Cheltenham Championship, the thousands who had come to see him race rose to their feet. But Charlie Swan knew that he was doing the right thing. The year before, the game old warrior had actually fallen and in the minds of his jockey, trainer and owner, it was unthinkable to put him at risk. As they walked by the stands that day, the spectators — who were still on their feet — began to applaud. Swan saw grown men crying. Women clutched tissues to wet cheeks. Young people stretched out their hands to touch a horse who was the bravest they had ever seen.

But no amount of emotion could change the realization that a thoroughbred who had dominated horse racing for the last 5 years was leaving the turf for the last time. 

The career of a legend had ended.

His name was Istabraq (1992), a Sindhi word for “brocade.” In his early years, Istabraq seemed an unlikely candidate to wear the mantle of racing legend, despite his impeccable breeding. His sire was the sire of sires, Sadler’s Wells (1981) and his dam was Betty’s Secret, by Secretariat. Betty’s Secret had already distinguished herself as the dam of Secreto (1981), the winner of the Epsom Derby in 1984. Owned by E.P. Taylor, the Canadian thoroughbred breeder and owner of Northern Dancer, Betty’s Secret was sent to Ireland in 1987 to be bred to some of Northern Dancer’s British sons. Taylor died two years later and the mare, in foal to Sadler’s Wells was purchased by Hamdan Al Maktoum. The foal she was carrying was Istabraq.

Whereas his dam was a loner, known for her aggressive behavior toward other mares, Istabraq had a sweet disposition. His only quirk as a youngster was that he enjoyed showing himself off to other foals — and anyone at the paddock fence who might be watching.  “…It was almost as if he knew he was worth a fortune,” reflected Tom Deane, who cared lovingly for Istabraq as a young colt at Derrinstown in County Kildare, Ireland. But Deane adored all of his young charges. Istabraq grew into a nice, correct yearling, but in every other way he seemed pretty average.

“Worth a fortune…” Baby ISTABRAQ (by SADLER’S WELLS) with his dam, BETTY’S SECRET (by SECRETARIAT). The little colt foal was the son of a champion and the grandson of two champions, NORTHERN DANCER being the sire of SADLER’S WELLS.

As a two year-old racing on the flat, Istabraq was backward and lacked a good “turn of foot,” meaning that he needed too much time to pick up speed. Sheikh Hamdan’s advisor, Angus Gold, believed that any thoroughbred with real ability shows promise in its two year-old season. Even though Istabraq seemed to try when he ran and even though trainer John Gosden was prepared to give him the time he needed to develop, in the end it was Gold’s judgement that won out. By 1994 the verdict on Istabraq was that he was unlikely to live up to his wonderful pedigree. His jockey, the great Willie Carson agreed. He described the youngster as a “slow learner” who “…also lacked speed and was not at home on fast ground…I came to the conclusion that the reason he was struggling was because he had no speed. In fact, he was one-paced…”

By his third year, Istabraq had developed foot problems. He had always been rather flat-footed, especially in front and it was difficult to shoe him such that his heels were off the ground. Consequently, he developed a quarter crack and was out of commission for several weeks that year. In his final race on the flat, he refused to quicken despite Carson’s aggressive ride and was beaten by a length. Sheikh Hamdan decided that he had persevered with Istabraq long enough and gave instructions that he was to be sold.

When John Durkan, Gosden’s assistant trainer, heard that Istabraq would be listed in the 1995 Tattersall’s sale he resolved to acquire him. He saw possibilities for Istabraq, but not on the flat — as a hurdler. Having informed Gosden that he would be leaving to go out on his own, Durkan began searching for a possible buyer for Istabraq and found one in J. P. McManus, a wealthy Irishman who had made a fortune as a gambler. Following the sale at Tattersall’s, McManus shipped Istabraq back to Ireland with the understanding that the colt would be trained by Durkan. In his young trainer, Istabraq had found someone who believed in him. “He is no soft flat horse. He is the sort who does not get going until he’s in a battle. He has more guts than class and that’s what you need, ” Durkan told McManus, “He will win next year’s Sun Alliance Hurdle.” Prophetic words.
John Durkan believed in him and that belief changed a mediocre flat horse into an Irish national legend.

John Durkan believed in him and that belief changed a mediocre flat horse into an Irish national legend.

In Great Britain it is not unusual for thoroughbreds to be moved from racing on the flat to the world of National Hunt racing when they meet with little success at the former. National Hunt racing originated in Ireland in the 18th century and to this day the Irish remain devoted to a style of racing that they continue to dominate. Each type of National Hunt race has its own features. An average hurdle race, for example, involves a minimum of 8 hurdles over 3.5 feet high and is run over a distance of at least 2 miles. The chase involves horses jumping fences of 4.5 feet minimum and courses that range from 2 – 4.5 miles. The steeplechase is restricted to thoroughbreds that have a hunter certificate; the most famous steeplechase in Britain is the Grand National. Thoroughbreds that hurdle, chase or steeplechase need to have an aptitude for jumping. But since National Hunt racing demands that horses both jump and run over longer distances than is usual on a flat course, a National Hunt thoroughbred needs to be particularly courageous and tough, as well as blessed with endurance. Arguably, National Hunt colts and fillies need to be deeper through the heart than their “softer” flat racing cousins.

The first item on the agenda for Istabraq upon his return from Tattersall’s was an appointment with the vet. It is traditional to geld National Hunt thoroughbreds to ensure their safety and comfort, as well as make them easier to handle. The operation itself is straightforward but can be taxing for an older horse and Istabraq fell into this category. Turned out, he was given time to heal and come back to himself. In the mean time, John Durkan was busily making plans to buy yearlings for new owners and finalize the purchase of his own stable when he fell ill. A short time later, he was diagnosed with leukaemia. Before he left for Sloan Kettering in New York, arrangements were made to send Istabraq to a brilliant young trainer, Aidan O’Brien, with the understanding that when John recovered the colt would be returned to him.

The first to school Istabraq over hurdles was the young stable jockey, Charlie Swan. As they moved from the baby hurdles to the “real deal,” Istabraq demonstrated a flair for jumping. He didn’t back away and he didn’t hesitate. Swan recalls, “He was quite amazing, a real natural.” It was the beginning of a famous partnership.
Even at the very beginning, while he was still in training, ISTABRAQ demonstrated his jumping talent.

Even at the very beginning, while he was still in training, ISTABRAQ demonstrated his jumping talent.

In Istabraq’s first start over hurdles at Punchestown (IRE), O’Brien instructed Swan to focus on making the experience an enjoyable one for the horse. To that end, he told the jockey to drop Istabraq behind and, if he felt that the horse was willing and ready, to move him up to the leaders as they turned for home. It is the considered opinion of many that it is Aidan O’Brien’s instinctive understanding of a horse’s mind that has been the major ingredient in a stellar career. In character, O’Brien is a modest, shy man, whose greatest concern is always for the well-being of the thoroughbreds in his care. And not unlike Istabraq’s first trainer, John Gosden, O’Brien understood the virtues of patience in building up a thoroughbred’s confidence and stamina.

The plan went off perfectly until the final hurdle, where Istabraq made the kind of mistake a novice might well make, losing ground as he raced toward the finish. But the game colt finished second, beaten only by a short nose. All concerned were pleased with his performance. In defeat, Istabraq had shown the qualities of a champion — albeit an inexperienced one. And sure enough, from his second start in 1996 through to his twelfth race in 1997, Istabraq took ten hurdle races in a row; he won on courses that were rated from soft to yielding and from good to firm to heavy. Along the way, he won the hearts of a nation.
It was impossible not to love this courageous pair: Charlie and ISTABRAQ.

It was impossible not to love this courageous pair: Charlie and ISTABRAQ.

Over the same period, John Durkan’s valiant battle with cancer continued. His belief in Istabraq, combined with the support of family and colleagues back home in Ireland gave him the will to go on. After each race, O’Brien, McManus and/or Swan would call Sloane Kettering to share all the details of Istabraq’s performance. Sometimes John was able to hear the races live over the radio from his hospital bed. And once he made it back to Ireland to see his colt win, going 2m 3f at Leopardstown — a victory the press described as a “mere formality,” so certain were punter and fan alike of the colt’s prowess. For John, however, Leopardstown was a special moment, renewing his resolve to beat leukaemia and return to the sport — and the colt — he loved.

In March 1997, from an apartment in New York where he awaited a bone marrow transplant the following day, John was able to hear the running of the Royal Sun Alliance Novices Hurdle from Cheltenham (ENG) live via his father-in-law’s mobile phone. As John listened in, little did he know that Istabraq was giving his trainer and jockey cause to worry. As was the case with the great Nijinsky, Istabraq had inherited the “delicate sensibility” of many of the Northern Dancers. Even when home at Coolmore, he would fret if there were any changes in his routine and this had made shipping him to Cheltenham tricky. In the walking ring prior to the Sun Alliance, surrounded by noisy onlookers, Istabraq became increasingly agitated. His blood-bay coat was dark with sweat. The only solution — one that was to cost both O’Brien and Swan a small fortune in fines throughout the horse’s career — was to get Istabraq out of the walking ring and onto the race course. And although National Hunt rules prohibit a horse from going onto the course before the others, the tactic never once resulted in Istabraq’s being disqualified from a race.
As John battled cancer, Aidan O'Brien stepped in to train ISTABRAQ. Shown here in conversation with Charlie Swan.

As John battled cancer, Aidan O’Brien stepped in to train ISTABRAQ. Shown here in conversation with Charlie Swan.

Istabraq ran his race even though it took Swan some moments to settle him. The colt was coming up a winner when he was bumped hard by another horse as they flew over a hurdle. Charlie Swan feared his mount would go down, but miraculously the colt landed on his feet. It was unbelievable that   Istabraq recovered: he had been travelling at about 30mph when the other thoroughbred cannoned into him. Istabraq was on his feet and moving, but winded. Swan gave the colt about three strides to collect himself before asking him to pick it up. And Istabraq, who had once been regarded as lacking a good turn of foot, turned it on. With a horse called Mighty Moss at his throat latch Istabraq battled back, winning the Sun Alliance by a length. Mobbed by ecstatic fans, the gelding was led into the victory enclosure. Over the din, Aidan O’Brien, JP McManus and Charlie Swan got on a mobile phone to share every moment with John Durkan. Not only had John’s bold prediction for the grandson of Secretariat come true, but Istabraq would go on to finish the 1997 season unbeaten.

As Istabraq’s star ascended, John’s health went into sharp decline. The decision was made to bring him home to Ireland where he could spend his days in the company of family and friends. Despite the fact that he was dying, John turned out to see Istabraq win The Hatton’s Grace Hurdle in November, 1997. It was the last time he would see “his lad” : on the night of January 21, 1998, John Durkan died. 
ISTABRAQ and Charlie Swan in full flight at Cheltenham in 1998. Photo and copyright, George Selwyn.

ISTABRAQ and Charlie Swan in full flight at Cheltenham in 1998. Photo and copyright, George Selwyn.

Charlie Swan wore a black armband in John’s memory on the day of Istabraq’s first start in 1998, the AIG Europe Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown. The gelding, who was now 6 years old, handled the race with ease. John Durkan had been laid to rest only the day before, making it a bittersweet victory. But John’s wife, Carole, joined Istabraq in the winner’s enclosure and accepted the trophy on behalf of her late husband. 

The AIG had been a final prep for Istabraq before the prestigious Smurfit Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy, to be run at Cheltenham in March. By this point, Istabraq was a mature and experienced hurdler at the top of his form. Charlie Swan gave him a final work before the big day and as they returned to the stable, Aidan O’Brien confided, “He will bloody destroy them.” Swan was taken aback at the force of O’Brien’s conviction. “But Aidan, this is the Champion Hurdle.” To which the trainer replied, “I don’t care. He will destroy them.” And destroy them he did: Istabraq took the first of what were to be three consecutive Champion Hurdle victories by twelve lengths, in a time just shy of the record. It had been 66 years since a thoroughbred had won the trophy so decisively — and that horse had only faced a field of 4. 

“This one’s for John…” ISTABRAQ and Charlie lead the field home by an astonishing 12 lengths.

Istabraq’s victories in the Champion Hurdle in 1998, 1999 and again in 2000 remain the races for which Istabraq is renowned. In the 2000 race, he not only won but set a time record and joined an elite group of four other thoroughbreds who had also clinched the trophy three times. As the Racing Post put it, “Istabraq exchanged greatness for immortality.”

Here he is in a video summary of the highlights of the career of the “Mighty Istabraq”:

“… it was the manner of Istabraq’s wins that remains shocking … he simply cruised to victory, whatever the conditions, with a grace and strength that often beggared belief.” Shown here, with Charlie Swan.

In 2001, an outbreak of foot-and-mouth forced the cancellation of the Champion Hurdle and as Istabraq’s legion of fans — together with Aidan O’Brien — insist to this day, the likelihood of his winning a fourth consecutive time. Given the fact that he had won the second and third Champion Hurdles under less-than-ideal circumstances, one could not blame them for believing that Istabraq would “destroy” the field one more time.

Returning to Cheltenham a year later as a 10 year-old, Istabraq was not the horse he had been in 2000. Days after Charlie Swan rode him off the course after only the third hurdle, Aidan O’Brien announced that the gelding had damaged the equivalent of the Achilles tendon in his hock. Istabraq was retired, having won 23 of 29 starts over jumps, with earnings of over 1 million BPS.

ISTABRAQ takes flight. Note his distance from the actual hurdle.

In 1989, the year that Secretariat died, it was discovered that he had a very large heart — literally — estimated to weigh between 22-23 lbs. It was a perfect heart in every other way. Prior to this discovery, it was thought that the great thoroughbred Phar Lap (1926) had possessed the largest heart, at 14 lbs.  The discovery of Secretariat’s huge heart sparked renewed interest in  X-chromosome research that had been taking place for a number of years on human runners, as well as in the work of equine geneticists like William E. Jones of California and Dr. Anthony Stewart of Australia. The X-chromosome is a more potent carrier of genetic material than the Y, although both have important roles to play in the making of a thoroughbred. But it is the X that is a possible precursor of thoroughbred performance when it is linked to the transmission of a large heart. Subsequently, it was discovered that Sham (1970), Secretariat’s mightiest rival, had a heart that weighed 18 lbs., lending credence to the probability that had he been born in any other year, Sham would have swept the Triple Crown himself. Today we know that there are 4 sire lines that transmit a large heart on the X-chromosome: Princequillo, War Admiral, Blue Larkspur and Mahmoud. These 4 sires, if one traces back the genetic pattern for the transmission of the X — which is from sire to daughter and from that daughter to her son(s) — the incidence of strong race performance is more or less continuous. Secretariat produced 4 double-copy daughters: Weekend Surprise (1980), Secrettame (1978), Terlingua (1978) and Betty’s Secret. (Double-copy because all carried Princequillo plus one or more of the other 3 sire lines on the top and bottom of their pedigrees.) All of these, in turn, produced at least one son who is a potential heart-line source, notably A.P. Indy (Weekend Surprise),  Gone West (Secrettame), Storm Cat (Terlingua) and Istabraq (Betty’s Secret). Of these mares, only Betty’s Secret carried Princequillo on the top and bottom of her pedigree, suggesting that she would pass on to a son like Istabraq a “double dose” of Secretariat’s large heart. 

ISTABRAQ in retirement with his best buddy, RISK OF THUNDER.

At 19, Istabraq still greets vistors at J.P. McManus’ Martinstown Stud (IRE). Although politely sociable with his fans, Istabraq’s greatest affection is reserved for his pasture pal, Risk of Thunder. Watching the two nuzzle and romp and roll in the dirt together, they are just horses. But when Istabraq’s fans come to visit, they see the greatest Irish champion hurdler who ever set foot on the turf. As if to let him know how much they love him, the Irish public voted him their favourite horse of the last 25 years in 2009. 

Recently, ISTABRAQ was honoured by his Irish fans and his racing Team.  Join them in this delightful short:

It’s impossible to mistake the stamp of greatness. Just watch Istabraq coming to win his first Champion Hurdle by 12 lengths in strides so enormous that he seems to be eating up the ground as he goes. Or watch how he quickens at the last, producing a mighty surge that precious few thoroughbreds could muster.

No question about it: in Istabraq, the heart of Secretariat has come home.

Still a ham for the camera, ISTABRAQ cavorts in his paddock in 2010.

Catching up with Istabraq, February 2018:



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This article is dedicated to the team who bred and race the outstanding Juddmonte filly, Enable. A very special thank you to the gifted Laura Battles, Michael Harris and Toby Connors for the privilege of including their outstanding images in this article. 

The sire of ENABLE, the brilliant NATHANIEL, a son of Galileo, had the misfortune of running in the same years as Frankel. Photo and copyright, Toby Connor. Used with permission.

The beautiful CONCENTRIC (Sadler’s Wells X Apogee), dam of ENABLE, represents the third generation of a female family bred by Prince Khalad Abdullah. ENABLE is her fifth foal. In 2015, CONCENTRIC produced a colt by DANSILI who has been named CENTROID. She returns to NATHANIEL in 2018. Photo and copyright, Juddmonte Farms.

The making of a great thoroughbred is always a marriage of art and science. From breeding shed to reaching the pinnacle of the sport, Enable — like all those before her — is a masterpiece wrought of breeding acumen, together with training and conditioning, and involving many minds and hands. Clearly, a three year-old is still a work in progress. But this reality only serves to highlight the important narrative that lies just under the surface of a thoroughbred champion’s becoming.

Her sire had the misfortune of running in the same years as Frankel and illness kept him from his best form as a four year-old. But none of this dissuaded Prince Khalid Abdullah and his bloodstock advisers from breeding Concentric, a third generation descendant of one of the Prince’s first homebreds, to Lady Rothschild’s champion colt. Concentric herself was no slouch on the turf, winning the Listed Prix Charles Laffitte over 1m2f at Chantilly and placing in two other graded stakes, also in France. The mare hails from a family that includes a full sister, Dance Routine, also a graded stakes stakes winner, whose biggest claim to fame in recent years is that she is also the dam of the accomplished Flintshire.

The result of the Nathaniel-Concentric union was Enable, who stepped onto the turf at Chantilly after a very long and brilliant racing season, and did this:

They call it the Arc de Triomphe for a reason: to win it is the ultimate triumph for a turf thoroughbred. The John Gosden-trained Enable won it by lengths. And as she crossed the finish line, the daughter of Nathaniel and Concentric joined an exclusive club of fillies and mares that included  Corrida (1936), Allez France (1974), Ivanjica (1976), All Along (1983), Urban Sea (1993), Solemia (2012) and, in 2016, Found — all of whom won it as four year-olds. But as a 3 year-old, Enable joined an arguably even more exclusive sorority of Arc winners: San-San (1972), Three Troikas (1979), Detroit (1980), Akiyda (1982) and, most recently, Zarkava (2008), Danedrem (2011) and Treve (2013), who would win it again as a 4 year-old the following year. In other words, since 2011, only one colt — the enigmatic 3 year-old, Golden Horn — has won the Arc. All the rest have been “girls.”

And look at the champions Enable vanquished: Ulysses (Galileo), Order of St. George (Galileo), Winter (Galileo), Satono Diamond (Deep Impact), Zarak (a son of Arc winner Zarkava) and Cloth of Stars (Sea of Stars).

The outstanding GOLDEN HORN, with Frankie Dettori in the irons, winning the Arc in 2015.

There seems an army of superb fillies and mares sweeping the planet over the last 10-15 years, and there’s no doubt their impact has changed how prospective owners view a promising colt or filly. From Japan’s Gentildonna (Deep Impact) and, most recently, the magnificent Soul Stirring (Frankel), to Germany’s Danedream (Lomitas), to Great Britain’s Ouija Board (Cape Cross), Midday (Oasis Dream), The Fugue (Dansili) and the brilliant jumps mare, Quevega (Robin des Champs), to Australia’s Black Caviar (Bel Esprit) and current superstar, Winx (Street Cry), to America’s Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d’Oro), Zenyatta (Street Cry), Royal Delta (Empire Maker), Havre de Grace (Saint Liam), Beholder (Henny Hughes) and Ascot heroines, Tepin (Bernstein) and Lady Aurelia (Scat Daddy), to Canada’s Lexie Lou (Sligo Bay), Catch A Glimpse (Sligo Bay) and Holy Helena (Ghostzapper), fillies and mares are dominating hearts, minds and winner’s enclosures. And, we hasten to add, this is only a partial list.

Enable, in the space of a short 10 months of racing, sealed the deal to easily become England’s most beloved filly of 2017.

ENABLE at Chantilly. Photo and copyright, Michael Harris. Used with permission.


As she crossed the finish line at Chantilly, new turf stats exploded at Enable’s heels:

— First English-bred filly to win the Arc (i.e. Found, the 2016 winner, is an Irish-bred)

— First filly to win both the King George VI & the Arc in the same year

— Fifth Arc win for jockey, Frankie Dettori, making him the most winning Arc jockey in its history

— Second Arc win for trainer, John Gosden, who also trained the 2015 winner, Golden Horn

— Fifth Arc win for the filly’s owner-breeder, Prince Khalid Abdullah, whose prior Arc winners were Rainbow Quest (1985), the beloved Dancing Brave(1986), Rail Link (2006) and Workforce (2010)


No-one familiar with the exceptional reputation of Prince Khalid’s record as a breeder of fine thoroughbreds was hugely surprised by Enable’s “disdainful” treatment of her Arc competitors. The filly was only doing what she had already done in her other five Group 1 victories in England and Ireland, which included both the 2017 Epsom and Irish Oaks. But particularly satisfying to Prince Khalid had to be that she was a Juddmonte-bred. The Prince’s passion for breeding exceeds his interest in the sport itself, and his patience and brilliance also brought him Frankel, who was a product of thirty-five years of breeding, and who came to the Prince in a year when, given a longstanding agreement with Coolmore, he was accorded first choice of Coolmore-Juddmonte offspring.  Add trainer John Gosden and the brilliance of Frankie Dettori into the mix and you’ve got a very, very serious Arc contender. In fact, the only doubt about Team Enable going into Chantilly was whether or not the filly’s season had been too long to carry her to victory one more time.

NATHANIEL, sire of ENABLE, in the winner’s enclosure after the Coral-Eclipse with his team, John Gosden, Will Buick and groom, Imran Shawani. Lady Rothschild holds her champion’s bridle.


Roughly seven years later, Imran Shawani is the lad of ENABLE, just as he was her sire’s during NATHANIEL’S racing career. Photo and copyright, Michael Harris. Used with permission.

But it took much more than a brilliant owner-breeder and his advisers to get Enable to the Arc in the kind of mental and physical form that would frame her superb performance on that day. And that feat belies the great artistry of all eminent trainers and their teams throughout the history of the sport of thoroughbred racing.

Enable’s story begins with the breeding and conditioning of her sire and dam, as all such stories do. Lady Rothchild’s brilliant Nathaniel, a son of the incomparable Galileo out of Blue Hen mare, Magnificent Style, from the Nearco and Hail To Reason sire lines, stands as the only thoroughbred to get close to the legendary Frankel in the duo’s very first start at Newmarket in 2010 as two year-olds:

Nathaniel was nurtured under the tutelage of the great John Gosden, and his performance at Royal Ascot a year later made it clear that the colt was a champion in his own right. In 2011, Nathaniel won the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth, a race considered vital in shaping a prospective stallion’s career. He was the only 3 year-old in the field and he beat both Workforce and St. Nicholas Abbey.

“The bird has flown” the track announcer called:

In 2012 Nathaniel won the Eclipse Stakes but the year was otherwise a disaster for the colt, who was hampered with respiratory problems that saw him out of action for almost eight months before his Eclipse win in July of that year. He raced on, finishing a gallant second to Danedream in the King George VI and third to Frankel and Cirrus des Aigles in the Champion Stakes, among other starts. Retired following the Champion Stakes, it remained to be seen whether his final year on the turf would take its toll on his reputation as a stallion.

But breeders had taken note of Lady Rothschild’s bay colt: even with the rise of Enable from Nathaniel’s first crop, the stallion posted a healthy figure of seventeen winning three-year-olds (94+//14% of foals), with only Galileo, Dubawi, Frankel and Sea The Stars ranked higher. The figures on his first crop are perhaps even more striking since, unlike Frankel, Nathaniel was not blessed with an army of champion mares, even though none were shabby. With a star like Enable, it can be expected that Nathaniel will receive an even better quality of broodmares in 2018 and Enable’s dam, Concentric, will be among them.

NATHANIEL stands at Newsells Park Stud.

John Gosden is a trainer whose credits include another 6,000 winners besides Nathaniel and Enable. He has trained the winners of over 100 Group 1 races in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. He is the only trainer in history whose horses have won the prestigious Cartier Awards in the same year for Champion Three Year-Old Colt (Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Kingman), Three Year-Old Filly (Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Taghrooda) and Horse of the Year (Kingman).His earliest success as a trainer came in California with Bates Motel, followed by Zoffany and Royal Heroine. When Bates Motel won the prestigious Santa Anita Derby and an Eclipse award, Gosden famously said, “[When] Bates Motel won ‘The Big Cap’ in front of 85,000 people, it was some occasion. My first big winner – everybody needs a break in life and that was mine.”

Other champions trained by Gosden include Muhtarram, Zenda, Oasis Dream, Dar Re Mi, Flemensfirth, The Fugue, Izzy Top, Raven’s Pass, Benny The Dip, Taghrooda, Jack Hobbs, Elusive Kate and the 2015 Derby and Arc winner, Golden Horn.

Considered one of the finest and most successful racehorse trainers of his generation, Gosden trains at his Clarehaven Stables in Newmarket, England. His reputation for honesty and openness has led him to be called “one of the sport’s great communicators”:


“Sir Johnny G” — Gosden was presented with an OBE by HM The Queen this year, entitling him to use “Sir” before his name — likely saw some potential in Enable when she arrived in his yard. But the Juddmonte people still didn’t see a superstar in the making in their two year-old filly. As Juddmonte’s racing manager, Lord Teddy Grimthorpe, put it, “She was always nice, but she was a little unfurnished as a young horse… As a 2-year-old, she won her maiden in her first start literally at the end of November. We started thinking nice races, but not the big, big ones.” (excerpted from “Enable Continues To Exceed Expectations,” Amanda Duckworth in The Paulick Report, 01-31-2018)

Accordingly, Enable only raced once as a juvenile in 2016, winning at Newcastle over a tapeta surface under jockey, Robert “Rab” Havlin. It would be the beginning of their relationship and it meant even more for Rab.


ENABLE wins her maiden at Newcastle under Robert “Rab” Havlin, who took over as her exercise rider/conditioner throughout 2017.

In January of 2017, Rab entered into a period that he has described as “absolute Hell” and what trainer Gosden described as “a Kafka-esque nightmare.” Shortly after riding Enable to her maiden win in 2016 — a year that saw him make his personal best with eighty-two winners — the jockey received a letter from France Galop accusing him of riding under the influence of cocaine and morphine, the result of a failed drug test in France in October 2016. At first, Rab thought there had been a mix-up but, despite tests of his hair that revealed no evidence of any substance, together with an appeal launched by Gosden and a number of court appearances, Rab was handed a ten-month suspension. As of this writing the court fight continues, in what both trainer and jockey consider an “appalling miscarriage of justice.”

Footage that features Rab Havlin working Enable at Newmarket prior to her Arc win, with commentary by Gosden. The voiceover is in French but Gosden is basically saying what has been encapsulated in the section following the video, below.

So it was that Rab became Enable’s exercise rider in January 2017 and under his guiding hands, the pair worked over the gallops at Newmarket as the filly prepared for her three year-old debut. Enable was developing into a big, strong filly with her own needs and quirks. But she was also regarded as “a sweet filly” by all who worked with her, chiefly for her kindness and her sensible mind. Although it isn’t much discussed in racing columns, the mind of a thoroughbred is as crucial its physical endowments. Aidan O’Brien has said that to be successful, a thoroughbred needs “mental strength” — without it, he considers an individual “useless” even if it has a spectacular pedigree. Like his distinguished peer, Gosden also looks for a good mind, and in Enable he found it.

“A sweet filly with a sensible mind.” ENABLE and her travelling lad. Photo and copyright, Michael Harris. Used with permission.

Throughout her three year-old season, the filly consistently displayed the capacity to rebound quickly from a race, even one that asked her for everything she had.

Most thoroughbreds are kept occupied by a routine that sees them in light exercise after a race, followed by a regimen that builds them up again for their next start. But what do you do with a filly who takes a short respite and then is ready — all on her own — to go again? Part of keeping such an individual happy is finding a routine that keeps her well within herself and supports a positive and healthy state of mind. Gosden’s approach was to do just enough with Enable to promote a balanced body-balanced mind. Or, as he himself put it, “At home we don’t ask her to do too much.” Rab Havlin and the Gosden team were central to Enable achieving and maintaining that balance, from time spent grooming her to outings over the Newmarket gallops. Over a long and demanding three year-old campaign, “Team E” acquitted themselves brilliantly.

In April 2017, following a third place finish to her stablemate, Shutter Speed, Enable returned in May to take the Cheshire Oaks under Frankie Dettori. There, Gosden saw something remarkable. In the final furlongs, as Coolmore’s Alluringly, under Ryan Moore, came to take her on Enable hit another gear. And with a turn of foot that even surprised veteran Frankie Dettori, the filly scorched home. The “Sweetheart of Clarehaven” had always morphed into a fierce competitor before a run. As Gosden reflected, “…on race day she goes straight into the zone.”  But this was something quite different. What the trainer saw and the jockey felt on Cheshire Oaks day was the heart of a thoroughbred champion — and a mind steeled to win.

In June, a scarce few weeks after her victory in the Cheshire, Enable returned to contest the Investec Oaks at Epsom, with Dettori in the irons again.

The conditions were far less than ideal: rain poured down so thickly that it was caught on camera as sheets of battleship gray. Lightning bolts streaked across a sky as pale as elephant’s breath:

John Gosden’s praise for his filly and her jockey was warm and genuine, although he insisted that with Enable it was going to be one race at a time. It was a sensible caution, based on years of experience. Too, as the daughter of a first crop by Nathaniel, there was really no way of framing Enable’s potential or stamina, despite her accomplishments thus far. But her handling of both a soppy turf together with the alarming and erratic hisses of lightening bespoke a very, very special three year-old, whose mind and body were maturing nicely.

That next start turned out to be the Darley Irish Oaks, run early in July. Travelling Head Lad, Tony Proctor, would travel with Enable to Ireland, just as he had done on all of her previous starts. In the UK, a Travelling Head Lad is senior staff and under the authority of the Assistant trainer. He or she is fully responsible for the horses in his/her care on race day and, together with each horse’s groom, they assure that travel and anything else on site is done to perfection. Tony Proctor knows Enable well, telling photographer Michael Harris that she is “…just a pleasure to do anything with. Very straight forward.” And Tony’s role in assuring that the filly is relaxed and ready to race is as important as that of her trainers and groom.

Tony Proctor with ENABLE following her win in the 2017 Arc. Photo and copyright, Michael Harris. Used with permission.

Also travelling with the Epsom Oaks champion was Enable’s lad (groom), Imran Shawani. Imran, as mentioned above, had also been Enable’s sire’s lad and it must have been a treat to take charge of a daughter from Nathaniel’s first crop. Looking at shots of them together, it is very clear that Imran is Enable’s trusted human and that the bond between the two is strong. If she were asked, Enable would tell you that she belongs to the man who cares for her each and every day. She knows his smell and the sound of his voice and the touch of his hands. Imran represents continuity and, thus, stability, in Enable’s world.

ENABLE, with Imran at her lead, gives a grin to the camera. Photo and copyright, Michael Harris. Used with permission.

The last key figure in Enable’s life is jockey, Frankie Dettori,who has been a dominant figure in racing for over twenty-five years. Dettori’s arguably most celebrated triumph came in 1996, when he rode all seven winners on British Champions’ Day at Ascot. The day became known as “The Magnificent Seven” — a disaster for the bookmakers (it cost them 40 million BPS) — an incredible, unprecedented event.

Frankie is a fan favourite pretty much everywhere he goes. The son of Gianfranco Dettori, a prolific jockey in Italy, Frankie has ridden more than 500 Group (Graded) races and over 3000 winners, and is described by the legendary Lester Piggott as the best jockey currently riding. The list of winners over a long career reads like a Who’s Who of some the greatest thoroughbreds to grace the sport: Singspiel, Dubai Millenium, Lammtarra, Sulamani, Ouija Board, Refuse To Bend, Fantastic Light and, more recently, Golden Horn, Galileo Gold, Lady Aurelia and the hero of Champions Day, Cracksman, who is also trained by John Gosden.

Underneath that joyful personality is a man who has quite literally injured just about everything possible to injure and who survived a car crash that should have, by all rights, killed him, as well as a plane crash in 2000.

Dettori has ridden for most of the prestigious operations in Great Britain and Europe throughout his career. Now, at an age considered venerable in jockey ranks — Dettori is forty-seven — along comes Juddmonte’s Enable. Their relationship seemed destined to be a great one as the filly began her climb to the epitomy of British-Euro racing, the Arc. One can barely imagine the depth of knowledge at Dettori’s disposal that he brought to partnering the daughter of Nathaniel.

Folowing her Epsom Oaks win, Enable’s next appearance was in the Darley Irish Oaks, a short month later:

As the footage shows, Dettori was sitting on a powerhouse who saunters home,ears pricked, leading him to solemnly declare, ” Enable is a very special filly and it was so important to ride her – she is a true professional and I think she has improved since Epsom …She has a good turn of foot and put the race to bed.” In so doing, the filly became only the fourteenth in their histories to pull off an “Oaks double.”

As if this weren’t enough for one season, Enable’s next appearance in the King George VI- Queen Elizabeth II Stakes was her second that July — and her second start against the colts. The decision had been made when the filly came out of the Irish Oaks in a “joyous” frame of mind, ready to run again. In the field were some particularly brilliant thoroughbreds, including the inimitable Highland Reel, as well as the talented Benbatl, Eclipse Stakes’ winner Ulysses and veteran stayer, Jack Hobbs, also from the Gosden stable. Once again, rain was coming down in torrents, softening up the turf:

The King George win was an emotional one for Dettori. His filly had allowed herself to be rated until asked, but when she strode forward it was with the kind of power and majesty that turns emotions to mush. The crowd went into a frenzy so audible that the stands seemed to reverberate in one long, explosive chorus of cheers from the final strides to the winner’s enclosure. Said Frankie, while contemplating a well-deserved, hearty dinner that evening, “…She’s the real deal and I love her so much.” Too, the fact that the win was at Ascot also meant a good deal to Dettori, who had been shut out of Royal Ascot in 2017 because of an injury to his left shoulder, which also meant that he was unable to partner Lady Aurelia in the King’s Stand, among other prospective mounts.

ENABLE and Frankie Dettori greet Head Travelling lad, Tony Proctor, after the filly’s brilliant win in the King George at Ascot. Photo and copyright, Michael Harris. Used with permission.

As expected, Enable came out of the King George in “fine nick” and took on Coolmore’s Alluringly once again in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks late in August. The idea here was largely to keep the filly sharp and she certainly needed it, being very keen out of the gate. It took Frankie time to settle her into stride on the lead and through the long stretch drive, it appeared that Enable needed more encouragement than she had done in her previous wins, but this was because there was really no pace in the race. “She got a bit bored in the end…I pushed her out, but I felt I had something left if someone had come to me. She likes to have a fight on her hands; unfortunately today there was no fight and we had to do her own thing…” (Frankie Dettori in the Guardian, August 24, 2017)

Dettori knows thoroughbreds inside and out and, like John Gosden, understands that superstars are very, very rare. Typical of most of the British and European racing community, in Frankie’s mind the ultimate hurdle to greatness for a thoroughbred is victory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. So, while according Enable his esteem for her win record to date, Dettori began a regimen to drop his weight as low as he could manage for the Arc to give her an even larger weight advantage over the colts.

ENABLE and Imran arrive in Chantilly for the 2017 Arc.

In her pre-Arc preparation, no-one noticed anything different about their big, precocious filly at Clarehaven except Frankie: in his final work on Enable before she shipped to Chantilly, the filly was so full of herself that she dumped him. That told Dettori that after having had a little over six weeks off, Enable was ready for the biggest challenge of her career.

But there are no certainties at the Arc and trainer Gosden, while confident in his chances, was less than overjoyed about racing at Chantilly, as opposed to the Arc’s historic home at Longchamps. (Longchamps was undergoing much needed refurbishment to re-open in 2018.) At Chantilly, his chief concern was the shortness of the right side of the course that tended to force horses into a tight pack, while bumping and jarring one another as they jockeyed for position. From his point-of-view, the course at Longchamps was fair to everyone, while the one at Chantilly was not.

Here are some other pre-Arc thoughts from the trainer, following the results of a disadvantageous gate draw for both Enable and champion Ulysses:

October 1 dawned cool and fresh. Captured through the lens of the gifted Laura Battles, is a photographic record of Enable’s Arc triumph.

In the parade ring — game face on. Phot and copyright Laura Battles. Used with permission.


Going down to the start, ENABLE looks ready to fire and Frankie lets her know he’s there for her. Photo and copyright Laura Battles. Used with permission.


ENABLE stretches out toward the finish. Photo and copyright Laura Battles. Used with permission.


In full flight. Photo and copyright Laura Battles. Used with permission.


Near the finish. Photo and copyright Laura Battles. Used with permission.

A short week after her Arc victory, Enable was characteristrically “bucking and squealing” back at Gosden’s stable and so the decision was made earlier than anticipated that the Arc heroine would stay in training in 2018. When Frankie was asked if he thought Enable would be even better as a 4 year-old he quipped, ” All she has to do is be the same.”

It was the kind of response made famous by the Dalai Lama — a short retort that shocks the mind into a new context — but racing’s eminent veteran had it just right. The majority of fillies in Europe and the UK who were brilliant at three fail to re-capture this form as four year-olds and it was this fact that Frankie was referencing in his quip. For this reason, it was a huge decision by Prince Khalid Abdullah and Juddmonte to keep their champion in training, since the risk is as great as the potential reward, even though Enable has really nothing else to prove. In 2017, she answered every question, bringing her courageous heart and mighty body to the game each and every time.

In November, Enable was crowned Horse of the Year and Champion 3 year-old filly at the Cartier Awards, held in London, England. Determined on the basis of racing points earned in group races (40%), votes by sports journalists (30%) and by readers of the Racing Post and Daily Telegraph (30%), the Cartier Awards are open to thoroughbreds racing in Europe and Great Britain.



As the 2018 racing season looms, everyone will be looking to see whether the Enable of 2017 is still around.

For the sake of racing hearts right around the world, we sure hope so.


ENABLE. Photo and copyright, Michael Harris. Used with permission.



NOTE: THE VAULT is a non-profit website. (Any advertising that appears on THE VAULT is placed there by WordPress and the profit, if any, goes to WordPress.) We make every effort to honour copyright for the photographs used in our articles. It is not our policy to use the property of any photographer without his/her permission, although the task of sourcing photographs is hugely compromised by the social media, where many photographs prove impossible to trace. Please do not hesitate to contact THE VAULT regarding any copyright concerns. Thank you.



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I am sending you my warmest wishes for a holiday season filled with light, laughter, love and the company of friends.

Thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement. THE VAULT is written for you and it’s brought such joy into my life in so many ways. I have missed researching and writing more than I can say…..

I am improving each week — no longer acute bursitis, now more an issue of flexibility — but still not able to spend much time online.

I’m hoping to get back to writing in the New Year, possibly as early as January, with articles on WINX, ENABLE and some great fillies and colts of the past.

Until then, may your Christmas be “Merry & Bright” and the coming New Year be filled with promise,




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Friday, October 20

Dear Reader:

It seems that I have a case of acute bursitis in the shoulder of my typing/keyboard hand and I really can’t spend more than 10 minutes at a time on my computer.

So it is going to be difficult to post further articles until I can at least manage the pain.

But as soon as I can manage (‘ hoping in another 3 weeks or so), THE VAULT will be back with new articles on the superstars of today and yesterday.

Abigail Anderson



Here’s MISS VAULT: I saw this on EBAY a few years back and just had to have it!!!!


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Penny Chenery, the owner of The Meadow and of thoroughbred champions, Riva Ridge and Secretariat, died on September 16, 2017 at the age of 95. And for many, Penny’s death was like losing a part of their own personal history.


Penny gives Ronnie a hug in the Churchill Downs winner’s circle, as Lucien, Eddie and Secretariat look on. Their big red horse had just won the Kentucky Derby.

When I lived my personal Secretariat story, live television was an extension of what was really happening in the “now.” We watched intently — whether The Beatles on Ed Sullivan or the Triple Crown races — and committed each and every detail to memory. Because, as in life, the only way to re-visit those moments was through significant images, sounds and words stored in the mind. It was in this world that Penny Chenery Tweedy opened her arms to welcome a nation of sports people and racing fans into the life and times of her Triple Crown winner, Secretariat, and the Meadow Stable Team.

Without the social media platforms we can access today, helping strangers to feel close to a champion who happened to be a horse was quite an accomplishment. But Penny did it by overcoming the distance, in both literal and figurative terms — talking with fans as she signed autographs, composing descriptions that jumped off a page, opening up before the cameras that followed her everywhere she went, and reaching out with a repertoire of expressions and gestures that signaled personal contact.

Every fan of Secretariat and of Penny’s beloved Riva Ridge has their own personal narrative of how and when and why they found their way into Penny’s embrace. This is mine.

Penny with RIVA RIDGE and her team following RIVA’s Belmont Stakes win. She would later say, “Secretariat belonged to the world, but Riva belonged to me.” Photo and copyright, Tony Leonard.

Like so many, Secretariat’s Belmont Stakes was so powerful as to become a life memory for me. Even without the replays I can access today, I could close my eyes and see my family and I in front of the television screen, hear Chick Anderson’s call, see again the tears my mother and I shed as the big red colt in the checkered blinkers came down the final stretch. If you were a Canadian, it was doubly powerful. Because the tiny figure astride Secretariat was Canadian jockey Ron Turcotte, and somewhere up there in the stands was Canadian trainer, Lucien Laurin. During a lull in the post-race coverage, my mother fiercely declared what all five of us were thinking, “Well, that’ll show everyone what Canadians can do!”


Every Canadian horse racing fan knew Ronnie Turcotte. Born in Drummond, New Brunswick, Turcotte was a French-Canadian who grew up in a family where the spoken language was French. There is a large francophone community in New Brunswick, some of whom have their roots in Quebec, as does Ronnie, who was born there. In the pre-social media world, Turcotte first came to prominence via his association with Northern Dancer, whom he had ridden in his maiden win and again at Woodbine when The Dancer was retired. In fact, it was with E.P. Taylor’s Windfields Farm that the 18 year-old was first taken on as a stable boy and hot walker. Turcotte rose to apprentice jockey and eventually started working for fellow Canadian trainer, Lucien Laurin, at his stable in Maryland.

Ronnie on NORTHERN DANCER following the colt’s maiden win. At this time, Ronnie was an apprentice jockey. When The Dancer was retired, it was Ronnie who rode him out for the final time.

Laurin’s career in horse racing began in 1929, as a jockey at Blue Bonnets in Montreal. After riding 161 race winners and battling with constant weight problems, Laurin began working as a trainer in New England in 1962, a job that would span 45 years and take him to the pinnacle of horse racing success. While working for two different stables, Laurin enjoyed a long and successful association with owner Reginald K. Webster, for whom he trained many good horses, including Quill, the 1958 American Champion 2 Year-Old Filly, and Amberoid, winner of the 1966 Wood Memorial and Belmont Stakes. However, for the majority of Canadians, Lucien Laurin’s name will always be associated with memories of Riva Ridge and Secretariat.

Penny and trainer, Lucien Laurin.

Penny and her Triple Crown colt were a distinctly Canadian affair for many of us who lived north of the forty-ninth parallel, and the pride this engendered was almost as huge as Secretariat’s fame. (Canadians are always proud when they garner attention from the USA, chiefly because, despite its geographical size, Canada has a much smaller population. In 1973, there were about twenty-two and a half million of us, in comparison to a little more than two hundred and eleven million in the USA.) So it was that when it was announced that Secretariat would run his last race in Canada, I was overwhelmed at Penny Chenery’s generosity. It was a great honour for Canadian racing fans and for Lucien Laurin and Ron Turcotte, Penny’s decision would never be forgotten.

Sports commentators were quick to remind the Canadian public that Man O’ War had also run his last race in Canada in 1920, when he took on (American) Triple Crown winner, Sir Barton, to win The Kenilworth Park Gold Cup. The comparison was not lost on me. I often imagined that the big red horse of 1973 was a reincarnation of Man O’ War, to whom he seemed to bear an unmistakable resemblance. These imaginings were prompted by an awareness that, in witnessing the Secretariat narrative, I was in fact participating in a living history as great as those who saw Man O’ War run.


Ronnie’s last ride on SECRETARIAT came in an early morning workout over the Woodbine turf course. Photo and copyright, Ken Burns.

In October, when the Canadian International is run at Woodbine in Toronto, Canada,  I was training to be a teacher at McGill University. But this didn’t stop me ripping into newspapers from Toronto, Montreal and elsewhere, looking to see if there was any new “Secretariat coverage.” By today’s standards, the press was less than scanty: very few photos, some short reports. It was a cold, bleak month in Eastern Canada and it suddenly became even darker when I learned that Ronnie Turcotte would not get to ride Secretariat in his final race. In my eyes, Secretariat and Ronnie were one. It was finally my chance to celebrate Ronnie and the great Secretariat right here, on Canadian soil, and some dude in New York City had taken that opportunity away from me. And from Ronnie.

It was a cruel, heartless decision.


Penny and Lucien had to work fast to replace Ronnie and their choice, a personal friend of Penny’s, was the accomplished Eddie Maple. In 2009, when he was inducted into the American Racing Hall of Fame, Eddie was asked which race made him the most proud. He answered, “Secretariat, in the Canadian International.” But at the time, Maple was overwhelmed by the responsibility of pilotting a thoroughbred legend in his final race and the expectations of Secretariat’s team, his fans and everyone else who counted themselves citizens of Secretariat Nation that he would, of course, win. In the days following his suspension, Ronnie and Maple formed a bond, with the former teaching the latter everything he needed to know about Secretariat.


In the meantime, Woodbine was getting ready for a moment in thoroughbred history. Programs were being printed and, breaking with tradition, special tickets were printed featuring “Big red” on their face:




October 28, 1973 was circled in bright blue on my student agenda. Cameras, crew and sports journalists were crowding into Woodbine and the bistros and hotels of Toronto. The atmosphere crackled, even among the usually laid-back residents at the track.

Secretariat and Eddie Maple had their work cut out for them, as some very good colts were running against them, chief among them Kennedy Road, a five year-old son of Victoria Park who had won the Hollywood Gold Cup and was trained by the brilliant HOF Charlie Whittingham. Whittingham had not accompanied the horse to Woodbine; instead, it was trainer Jim Bentley who handled the colt when he came home to Canada. Kennedy Road had won the Queen’s Plate in 1971 and, although irrascible in temperament, he was a champion and a champion would ride him in the International: Avelino Gomez. The legendary Sandy Hawley was pilotting Presidial, another very solid runner. Big Spruce (out of grass sire, Herbager) who had won the Marlboro Cup and Fabe Count, winner of the Jockey Club Cup, were two other horses given a chance against Secretariat. Robyn Smith, then a rising star among female jockeys and much later, the wife of Fred Astaire, was a fan favourite and booked to partner Triangular, a grandson of Princequillo who was not considered a threat.


Jockey Robyn Smith rode TRIANGULAR in the International. She would later become the wife of Fred Astaire, whom she met when riding for Alfred Vanderbilt. The two were inseparable until Astaire’s death.


The weather continued to be an issue, particularly the rain, and it was not a certainty that Secretariat would start at all, although that information got lost in the build-up to October 28th. The International wasn’t Secretariat’s first run over turf; he had won the Man O’ War at Belmont impressively — and beaten Big Spruce and Triangular, as well as a very gutsy Tentam:


“Some people may not believe me,” jockey Ron Turcotte reflected, a few years after Secretariat’s retirement,”but I always thought he was an even better horse on grass than dirt.” Lucien Laurin was of the same opinion and was confident the colt would manage a wet surface. The decision was made to run.

On race day, it was cold and damp. Dark clouds formed ominously over Woodbine, turning its lush landscape into something that evoked gloom rather than glory. It might not have been the toughest test of her champion’s abilities, but as Penny would point out, “The easiest race on paper is the one I find we lose…so I have to worry.”

As Secretariat appeared in the tunnel and stepped onto the track, I held my breath and tried to staunch the pain of saying goodbye. In 1973, when a thoroughbred retired, he or she seemed to disappear: this was an ending, not just a final race in a brilliant campaign. (Of course, thanks to social media, I didn’t entirely lose the connection. But in 1973, there was no way to predict the internet.)

“There he goes! There he GOES!” stands in my memory alongside “he is moving like a tremendous machine…” Three little words — the tears that flowed when I heard them the first time — and the way my heart pounded when a Canadian flag of carnations was draped over Secretariat’s withers, just as though the whole of Canada enveloped him.

Secretariat is my big red colt and it was Penny who made it possible for me to feel this way.

“THERE HE GOES! THERE HE GOES!” Secretariat winning the Canadian International, October 28, 1973.


Out of the gloom on that grey day he came, rolling like a bright red thundercloud.


Wearing our flag: Eddie Sweat leads his champion into the winner’s circle and hearts burst open from Halifax to the Northwest Territories to Victoria. Photo and copyright: Michael Burns


Margaret Mead’s daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson, has observed that a life is a creation composed of the fabric of our daily selves and the improvisation necessary to keep on going, no matter what. In an early book, Composing A Life, Bateson studied the lives of five different women and summed up her findings in the following way: “…Today, the materials and skills from which a life is composed are no longer clear. It is no longer possible to follow the paths of previous generations…We see achievement as purposeful and monolithic, like the sculpting of a massive tree trunk that has first to be brought from the forest and then shaped by long labor to assert the artist’s vision, rather than something crafted from odds and ends, like a patchwork quilt, and lovingly used to warm different nights and bodies.”

The quilt Penny Chenery wove was a masterpiece.

Thank you, Penny, for reaching out to me and taking me on the ride of your life.


Penny and her big red colt.





Tom Durkin interviews Penny (2014):


Penny on the 40th Anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown:


Penny, Ronnie & Lucien talk SECRETARIAT:







“Big Red’s Last Race,” produced by the Ontario Jockey Club. (It’s my favourite portrait of Secretariat, Penny, Ronnie, Lucien, Eddie, Charlie {misnamed in the preceding clip as “George Davis”} and pony, Billy Silver. It’s real and filled with warmth and appreciation, a faithful Canadian rendition of the meaning Secretariat’s last race held for me. AA)

The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame: Kennedy Road, Eddie Maple



NOTE: THE VAULT is a non-profit website. (Any advertising that appears on THE VAULT is placed there by WordPress and the profit, if any, goes to WordPress.) We make every effort to honour copyright for the photographs used in our articles. It is not our policy to use the property of any photographer without his/her permission, although the task of sourcing photographs is hugely compromised by the social media, where many photographs prove impossible to trace. Please do not hesitate to contact THE VAULT regarding any copyright concerns. Thank you.




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