If ever the diverse nature of the thoroughbred industry could be reduced to a microcosm, the Red Tempo Handicap at Flemington on 21 December would be a stark example.
Lining up over the 1000m journey was the Bel Esprit 7YO, Beltrois, who by all accounts had little hope – the rank outsider.
He’d been there before … lots of times in fact. Even won there a tick over three years ago. Indeed, it was at Flemington he’d had his last race: Oaks Day last year.
So, after being off the scene for nearly 14 months, it’s little wonder there wasn’t much action around the $21.
But suddenly there he was – all heart and muscle and totally oblivious to public opinion. Right on the wire, he poked his big head through – he’d now won six races and close to $400,000.
Can you imagine the joy of connections? Robbie Griffiths for instance – he’d bred the horse after all and if there’s one constant I’ve found out in all the years of following this caper, the one you make is more special than the one you buy.
What’s more, he’d tipped his wife, Shiranee, and some good mates into the ownership … the late James Lillie, the great Don Healy, Brian and Peter Donohoe – just to name a few.
Sadly, mere strides after the post, Beltrois broke a shoulder, broke Ryan Maloney’s wrist and broke a lot of hearts.
Thing is, we dust ourselves off: Robbie will have been up this morning tending the herd and Shiranee will be looking after Robbie. Brian Donohoe will post even more updates on his Bel Esprit blog.
It’s totally inadequate to summarise by saying “That’s Racing” but it’s true – can you ever really glory in the view from Everest if you’ve never visited the darkest area of the valley?
That doesn’t mean horse lovers aren’t heavier of step when tragedy strikes and from all of us at Eliza Park – and to those owners/trainers/breeders who have ‘endured’ similar experiences – we express our condolences.