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Sunday, 20 February 2011

Remember my name...

There are many touching stories in horse racing but all too often they do not make the headlines - it seems that good news doesn't sell. This heartfelt story is all the more touching because it proves what a small world we live and that those stories are often told by the people we just happen to meet.

Can you remember Western Art?

This colt by Hennessy out of a mare Madam West was purchased by Mathew Green for 62,000gns as a two-year-old and trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam. By all accounts Western Art was a horse with lots of potential. He was narrowly beaten on his debut at Leicester - before winning on his second start at Sandown.

Chapple-Hyam had high hopes for Western Art, on his re-appearance at three, he ran at Newmarket in a Listed-class event. After a disappointing effort he didn't race again that season.

In the meantime he was sold.

As a four-year-old this bay colt was trained by Mick Easterby and finally concluded his racing career with Gay Kelleway in a 0 - 50 rated handicap.

From that day I had never heard the name Western Art - until today!

My brother, Tony, is a plasterer by trade and last week he was given a hand by a friend of a friend and of all things got talking about horse racing and found - to his surprise - that he was chatting to the proud owner of Western Art. This couple have a livery business and told a sobering story.

As can be seen from viewing Western Art's racing career, after a successful two-year-old campaign he was troubled by endless injuries. Sadly, Western Art was going to be put down. But there was hope. These good people fell in love with Western Art and bought him for 1,500gns. In fact they spent over £10,000 getting him back to good health and I am pleased to say he is now enjoying a wonderful retirement, which was so nearly lost!

Isn't it wonderful that people care enough to pick up the pieces when others no longer care?

I think this story shows that we are so often caught up with our own hopes and dreams that we may - at times - forget that each and every horse has a heart and soul, needs to be loved and nurtured, whether it's Sea The Stars or that little horse who tries so so hard but never quite manages to win one race. For this reason the many and varied charities that place ex-race horses (and I know many trainers do this, too) should be applauded. It is often said that people wish to take the emotion out of their gambling to be objective in the hope of success. But when the day's racing has been concluded - win or lose - the empathy and respect we show as human beings must shine through. Without such feeling we have lost.