'I was with him and the vet and he wasn't distressed at all' - Patrick Mullins pays emotional tribute to Nichols Canyon
A light went out yesterday in Closutton. Though small in stature, Nichols Canyon was a Titan in our yard but sadly we won't have him around any more after his fatal fall at Leopardstown.
With his honest head and heart of pure steel, he turned up at every gunfight and fought until he could fight no more. Braver than a pack of lions and tougher than John Wayne's boots, he carved a place in the hearts of every Jumps racing fan.
He is the only horse to have beaten Faugheen, he is our only winner of the Stayers Hurdle in Cheltenham, he won eight Grade Ones. Horses like him are like shooting stars, you don't know when you'll see another.
I was with him and the vet and he wasn't distressed at all. The adrenalin stops the pain. His shoulder was broken and the vet had no option but to put him to sleep, which he did quickly. The Wylies would have paid any money to save him but unfortunately it can't be done, not for all the gold in Fort Knox.
Racehorses are cared for better than any outdoor animals and so while we went home last night with heavy hearts, we know that with livestock, there will be deadstock.
While it is heart-breaking when things like this happen, that is life. The cold hand around your gut loosens and you carry on.
Nichols will be missed terribly by all at Closutton but most by Dick Dowling and Maite Laubies, who looked after him. Not for him the worries of old age in a field. He went out on his shield, fitting for a horse with such warrior-like traits.
The rest of the day was disappointing with Yorkhill and Djakadam running far below themselves, Bacardys falling, our two in Limerick tailing in and Low Sun being beaten a short head. However, they came home safe and will have other days.
We've been starting the last few mornings with nothing but the shine of the stars strewn across the Barrow Valley to guide us around the gallops until the sun finally rises over Mount Leinster in the east. So once Saturday dawns, everyone in our yard can finally resume normality after the madness of Christmas racing.
Faugheen steps up to the plate today in a bid to turn the tide. He looks head and shoulders above these, a man amongst boys. We've been happy with him since his Punchestown stroll and it is all systems go.
The logical choice was to come to Leopardstown rather than Kempton. Why go play an away game in England and have an unnecessarily hard race three months before Cheltenham? Also, we like to support our Irish races and it does look like we'll need every euro in order to retain the Trainers' Championship!
He should take another step towards wresting his crown back from the current king of two-milers, Buveur D'Air.
If both of them can make it to Cheltenham in fighting order, it will be a race worth walking a thousand miles to see.
The young English champion defending his throne from the older Irish challenger. It promises to be a race for the ages.
Ballyward runs in the maiden hurdle. He won by the length of Grafton Street in his bumper here last year and returns to the scene of the crime. He has a big engine, has point-to-point experience and should start to make up for lost time.
Let's Dance and Karalee contest the Mares Hurdle. Let's Dance broke Ruby's leg when she fell last time but is top-rated here and can make amends.
Down in Limerick, Kate Appleby Shoes can give Danny Mullins another winner.
She has won twice at the track and is a huge mare who will relish tackling Limerick's big fences. Heavy ground will be no problem at all to her and I think she is our banker for the day, Faugheen excepted of course.
Lets Dance (1.20)
Kate Appleby Shoes (1.30, Limerick)
Cilaos Emery (w/o Faugheen) (2.30)