Thursday 22 March 2018

Thomas dies after Hardwicke win

The ill-fated Thomas Chippendale (left) holds off Dandino
The ill-fated Thomas Chippendale (left) holds off Dandino

Joy instantly turned to despair at Royal Ascot 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 race 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 9-4 favourite, Ektihaam, slipped up on the bend when making the running and gave Paul Hanagan a nasty fall, though the horse was reportedly unscathed. The rider was stood down for the rest of the day and went to hospital for X-rays on his shoulder.

Murtagh kicked for home well over a furlong out and though Frankie Dettori, still searching a first win of the week, got a great tune out of Dandino, he could not sustain his challenge and went down by a length to the 8-1 scorer. Universal was another two and a half lengths back in third.

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 week.

Lady Cecil said: "I have to say that leading up to the race he was in such good form. He was enjoying himself. He loved and enjoyed it all - it's heartbreaking. We had never been happier with him beforehand. We're just devastated. We were thrilled when he won and now we feel so bad.

"The horse and jockey seemed fine so I wondered what had happened. It was quick, so the horse wouldn't have felt anything. 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."

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. 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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