Patrick J Battuello

Archive for the ‘Steeplechase Racing’ Category

Makari, Elena Strikes Make it 11 Dead at Saratoga

In Dead Athletes, Steeplechase Racing, Tracks on August 25, 2014 at 9:17 pm

7-year-old Makari, recently imported from Britain, is dead after breaking his neck in a steeplechase (race 1) this afternoon at Saratoga. Jack Doyle rode, Elizabeth Voss trained, and Merriebelle Stable owned. Curiously, the replay is missing from the NYRA website – broken necks, I suppose, are bad for business.

Also…

3-year-old Elena Strikes is dead after breaking a leg while “breezing” yesterday morning. She is the third Todd Pletcher-trained horse to be killed in Saratoga practice sessions (Lucky for You, Kamarius). For Saratoga ’14, this makes 11 dead athletes and counting:

4-year-old Lifeguard On Duty, July 24, training
3-year-old Double Gold, July 25, training
3-year-old Father Johns Pride, July 28, race 7
3-year-old Lavender Road, July 30, collapsed after being scratched
2-year-old Sir William Bruce, August 2, race 5
4-year-old Regretless, August 11, race 4
3-year-old M B and Tee, August 21, race 7
2-year-old Kamarius, August 23, training
2-year-old Ludicrous, August 23, race 4
3-year-old Elena Strikes, August 24, training
7-year-old Makari, August 25, race 1

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Steeplechase Madness

In Steeplechase Racing on July 23, 2014 at 7:58 am

In a French steeplechase (Saint-Pierre-la-Cour) this past Sunday, 10 horses started, 3 finished. The video tells the story far better than I ever could:

5 Killed Friday at Clonmel in Ireland

In Dead Athletes, Steeplechase Racing on June 15, 2014 at 3:32 pm

There is bad, then there is really bad. Friday at Clonmel Racecourse in Ireland, five, yes five, horses were killed steeplechasing. According to Irish Racing, here’s how it unfolded:

“Ballintotty Boy was the first casualty in the opener when the ground was described as good. Milan Elite fell at the fifth in the fifth and he sadly failed to rise, with the ground changing to good to firm after that contest. The third fatality came in the seventh with Oscar Pearl having to be put down after she pulled up injured before four out. Two more came to grief in the bumper with newcomers Lisgreen Lad and Areyouforreal both picking up fatal injuries.”

“Two more came to grief.”

In response comes this excrement from “Clerk of the Course” Lorcan Wyer:

“Obviously we were facing into 22 degree heat [72 F] and a very warm dry evening and there is always an element of risk with summer jumping. The track as it opened up during the day obviously dried and that may have been a factor. Obviously our sympathies go out to all the connections. We at Clonmel, and at all times and at all tracks, do our best to get everyone home safe both horse and rider. Unfortunately we have had five fatalities this evening and we will look back and assess what happened.”

What happened, Mr. Wyer, is your wicked institution.

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As the Horses Fell, the Patrons Groaned

In Steeplechase Racing on April 29, 2014 at 7:57 am

On racing’s egregious meter, steeplechasing is practically unsurpassed. These are the kinds of races you watch with an expectation of horses falling – and breaking. This past Saturday saw the 118th running of the Maryland Hunt Cup, a 4-mile race – at times, run at 30 mph – featuring 22 5-foot-high solid timber fences. The final tally: 15 started, 4 finished; of the 11 who did not, 4 fell, 4 “pulled-up,” and 3 lost their riders. The Baltimore Sun reported thus: “The crowd, which covered a hillside overlooking the course, groaned in unison when the first horse fell at the third fence.” When a “sporting event” regularly elicits groans, perhaps it’s time for a bit of introspection.

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4 Die at Cheltenham Festival 2014

In Dead Athletes, Steeplechase Racing on March 18, 2014 at 8:20 am

While this page holds that all horseracing is wrong, there is perhaps no more vile form than the steeplechase (“jumps”), the kind of animal competition that comes with an expectation of bodies falling, breaking, and dying. And so it was last week at the Cheltenham Festival 2014 in England. Four days, four kills (one was in a flat race under National Hunt rules): Our Conor (broken back), day 1; Akdam (fractured leg) and Stack The Deck (fractured knee), day 2; Raya Star (fractured spine), day 4.

The meet’s leading jockey, Ruby Walsh, said this after Our Conor’s death (The Telegraph, 3/12/14): “Horses are horses. You can replace a horse.” Walsh, in a bit of poetic justice, would break his arm later in the Festival when his horse, Abbyssial, took this fall…

photo credit: The Telegraph

photo credit: The Telegraph

photo credit: The Telegraph

photo credit: The Telegraph

And this from the RSPCA’s “equine consultant,” David Muir: “If a horse has broken its leg, we have to look at the reasons why and see what we learn from it.” If the RSPCA still has more to “learn” from racing kills, then it should cease calling itself an animal protective organization. Take a stand – work to end horseracing.

And finally, the British Horseracing Association: “Despite the best efforts of all involved, as with participation in any sport involving speed and athleticism, there remains an inherent risk of injury.” More fatuous words were never spoken.

Horse Banned for Refusing to Race

In Steeplechase Racing on January 17, 2014 at 7:34 am

From the UK comes word that 10-year-old Thoroughbred Mad Moose (below) has been “banned” by the British Horseracing Authority for, as Horse & Hound (1/13/14) puts it, “being reluctant and refusing to race one too many times.” In his last race in December, he started but “[pulled] himself up” before the first hurdle, the seventh time in 14 months that he has refused to participate. Horse & Hound adds, “The horse even got Nigel in trouble with the BHA last November, after the trainer chased after him waving a belt to try and get him to start at Cheltenham.”

mad moose jumps the last on his way to winning at cheltenham 19-4-12

While British media is having a bit of fun with this – calling him “quirky,” “naughty,” “headstrong,” and “serial” – I see something different. For me, this is a tale of quiet yet resolute rebellion, an exploited animal saying, in the only way he can, ‘no more.’ No more will I be whipped into doing your bidding. No more will I risk my limbs for your game. No more. Odds are, Mad Moose will soon be dead anyway, for there can be little value in an “old” (comparable to a twentysomething human) gelding who won’t run. But for now, this is one track event worthy of applause. And for that, Mad Moose, we thank you.

Crashing Neck-First

In Steeplechase Racing on October 14, 2013 at 8:24 am

The following is a sequence of jump-racing pictures from Ireland. Although the Daily Mail reports both jockey and horse as doing fine, I can think of no more damning visual of the steeplechase than this…

Zane Grey falls

Two New Zealand Jumpers Killed

In Dead Athletes, Steeplechase Racing on September 30, 2013 at 8:11 am

“It must be accepted that in some sports sometimes lives will be lost.” (New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Inc., The New Zealand Herald, 2012)

“A jumps race is a licence for animal cruelty.” (Eliot Pryor, campaign director for SAFE, Voxy, 9/27/13)

aSparkling02small

Two Thoroughbreds died yesterday as the New Zealand “2013 Jumping Programme” came to a close at Waikato. Seven-year-old Yangming and ten-year-old Roberty Bob fell in separate races, bringing the season’s death toll to ten. This figure, which outpaced last year, means that New Zealand can proudly boast a race-with-a-fatality rate of 10% (there were 99 events listed on the NZTR website). Imagine that. Here is the 2010-2013 victim roll. Broken shoulders, snapped legs, fractured spines, burst arteries.

The replays from yesterday (click on “video”)…

Race 1: Yangming, obviously tiring after having relinquished the lead, goes down at 2:26.

Race 6: Roberty Bob at 2:45, followed by two more at 5:02 and 5:46. When Mister Deejay crashes (5:02), the announcer says “it sold the farm,” apparently confusing his idioms. This race covered 3 miles, 22 hurdles (24 were scheduled, but the falls intervened), and took six minutes to run.

Yesterday’s Stewards Report (jud 29 Sep 2013) includes the following: “began awkwardly,” “fell heavily [Yangming],” “hit the second fence hard,” “landed awkwardly,” “misjudged the final fence,” “hit the fence…dipped on landing,” “stumbled badly,” “put in a poor jump…landing awkwardly and falling,” “underwent a post-race [exam] which showed signs of mild lameness,” “put in a poor jump…was humanely euthanzied [Roberty Bob],” “It’s A Monty lay on the track for a short period,” “Bold Mariner brought down by [It's A Monty],” etc.. In all, I count 16 different horses as falling, hitting a fence, pulling up, or being “excessively whipped.” Madness.

Sulwaan Dead at Belmont

In Dead Athletes, Steeplechase Racing on September 21, 2013 at 10:41 am

Sulwaan, a six-year-old Irish Thoroughbred who began his “career” in England, was killed Thursday after being injured in a steeplechase race at Belmont Park. Besides the ill-fated gelding, 3 others were official DNFs. Thus far in 2013, with more than a month of racing yet to come, Belmont has lost 23 horses.

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points of interest in the race replay below:

Dr. Skip “spilling” at the 3rd fence (1:12)
Cognashene “blasting right through the [4th] fence” (1:54)
Sulwaan “pulling up” after the 9th fence (3:28)
homestretch “guiding” of the six horses who did finish (around 4:20)

the race… (hit Race Replays, then Thursday, September 19, Race 1)

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