Gosden illuminates dark day
Minutes after watching his colt Nathaniel win Saturday's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, John Gosden showed his class by carefully dealing with rival Rewilding's death, putting the tragedy into the context of the thoroughbred racehorse's existence.
So often, racing is left a sitting target for those with their own agenda against the sport, but it is essential that those with the knowledge, experience and expertise in dealing with horses speak up. How many would have left Ascot, asking themselves how could this happen in such a high-profile race on one of the biggest days of the season, and with Frankie Dettori riding?
Gosden, calling on nearly four decades experience in racing, said: "It's a freakish thing. He (Rewilding) has put the leg down wrong, and he's broken the cannon-bone clean. He ran down the track in front of everyone and stopped. He was very calm and collected and we held him. He had to be dealt with because the leg was completely gone. It was a freak of nature. He was in no pain. The extraordinary thing is when they break a leg like that, it's as though nature anaesthetises them. They feel absolutely no pain. They feel more with a cut. I fed him a bit of grass and he munched away. Unfortunately, he had to be put down."
Any observer unsure of what had happened, or why, would have come away much the wiser for Gosden's illuminating explanation. However, it did not prevent the excruciating emptiness felt by those closest to an outstanding horse, which had finished third in the Derby, and won a Dubai Sheema Classic as well as Royal Ascot's Prince Of Wales's Stakes, defeating So You Think. He was the best horse in Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin stable.
Simon Crisford, their racing manager, said yesterday: "It has hit everybody here very hard. Rewilding was an outstanding Godolphin champion. His race record was superb, and we had every reason to hope he could win the King George."
One suspects that in taking the King George, Gosden was winning a race with special sentiment attached. 'Towser' Gosden, his father, achieved the biggest win of his career when Aggressor beat Petite Etoile in the 1960 running of the famous Ascot race. "It's etched in the memory, and it's taken me 50 years to emulate the old man."
While the drama surrounding the Rewilding tragedy overshadowed virtually all, it should be remembered that Nathaniel won very well, and he is now set to go straight to the Arc in October, for which he is a top-priced 8/1. (© Daily Telegraph, London)