Wednesday 21 February 2018

Lady Cecil 'Heartbroken' By Thomas Death after the Hardwicke

Thomas Chippendale ridden by Johnny Murtagh wins the Hardwicke Stakes but died shortly after the line
Thomas Chippendale ridden by Johnny Murtagh wins the Hardwicke Stakes but died shortly after the line

Keith Hamer

Joy instantly turned to despair at Royal Ascot on Saturday when Thomas Chippendale lost his life after winning the Hardwicke Stakes for trainer Lady Cecil and jockey Johnny Murtagh.

The four-year-old colt collapsed and died of a suspected heart attack after passing the line in a dramatic, and deeply sombre, renewal of the Group Two over a mile and a half.

Murtagh said: "He ran his heart out and was pulled up at the line.

"He lost his balance and I don't know what happened to him.

"It's heartbreaking for everyone involved - it should have been a great win.

"It's just devastating the way it's finished."

The sense of sadness was felt even more sharply by the fact Sir Henry Cecil, Thomas Chippendale's former trainer and wife of Lady Cecil, died last Tuesday.

Of Thomas Chippendale, Lady Cecil said: "I'm heartbroken, it was devastating, but at least it was quick and he wouldn't have felt anything.

"I didn't know what had happened until I came back. I thought everything was all right but it seemed all quiet and I had no idea why.

"The horse had been working so well."

Asked about her decision to come racing this week following her husband's death, Lady Cecil said: "I've had to keep going for Team Cecil and for Henry."

Lady Cecil said connections of Thomas Chippendale had gone from "a real high to a real low".

She said: "I have to say that leading up to the race he was in such good form. He was enjoying himself.

"We had never been happier with him beforehand.

"We were thrilled when he won and now we feel so bad.

"The horse and jockey seemed fine so I wondered what had happened.

"We've gone from one emotion to the other, from a real high to a real low.

"I feel so sorry for poor Sir Robert (Ogden, owner). He'd been looking forward so much to this day and I just don't know what to say."

In what was a most dramatic encounter, Ektihaam (9-4 favourite) also slipped up on the bend and gave Paul Hanagan a nasty fall.

The horse returned to the paddock unscathed, but Hanagan was sent to hospital for X-rays.

Hanagan set off to make all of the running - tactics he had employed last time out when beating Thomas Chippendale by six lengths.

Universal took up the running following Ektihaam's departure and had a good break on the field, but the challengers were stacking up two furlongs out.

Murtagh kicked for home well over a furlong out, but Frankie Dettori, still searching a first win of the week, got a great tune out of Dandino.

He could not sustain his challenge, however, and went down by a length to the 8-1 scorer, with Universal another two and a half lengths back in third.

Luca Cumani's Mount Athos and the supplemented Sir John Hawkwood never threatened to get involved.

Dandino's trainer Marco Botti said: "It was a very messy race and he got hampered when the other horse fell and by the loose horse.

"He finished the race very well and we will continue preparing him for the Caulfield Cup and the Melbourne Cup."

Mark Johnston, trainer of Universal, said: "It was unsatisfactory. The jockeys didn't know whether to go with the loose horse or not.

"It hasn't suited us but he stayed on well when the fourth horse (Noble Mission) went past him.

"He's in the King George and that would be tempting, while races like the Canadian International, Japan Cup and the Irish Leger will also be considered."

Press Association

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