“You will not be forgotten” – remembering the heartbreaking end of Wicklow Brave | Horse racing news
UPDATE AT 1:28 PM, OCT 19, 2021
Wicklow Brave died two years ago today in the US Grand National. In an article written at the time, Patrick Mullins reflected on the loss.
Fortune favors the brave, they say in fairy tales.
I’m sitting on a post and a fence near the last hurdle, trying to see over my head the crowded people in the infield. I can see the jockeys parading in the back straight. Paul Townend’s purple silks were second all the way, but Wicklow moved him up to the top four.
He steals the next two and rushes into the turn at home. I go downstairs and walk towards the small crowd of Irish people gathered at the end.
He is in front, he wins if he jumps it. I can just hear the commentator above the sea of crowd noise, “Wicklow Brave leads to the last….” He enters and crashes to the ground, Paul is sent flying and the horse turns twice before getting up.
I look at the horse. As a jockey I don’t expect to be seriously injured, so I also don’t expect other jockeys to like it or pool it.
Wicklow looks a little awkward getting up. His leg dangles from his shoulder. All the noise is sucked into the void. Strangely, he limps straight towards us and we catch up with him. He stops dead.
I’m starting to remove the saddle, because, well, what else do you do when you know the last grains of sand are falling through the hourglass?
Paul is there and I tell him to continue with the saddle, there is no point here now. My phone is ringing. Father. “It is not good news.” “OK.” Click on.
“title =” Wicklow Brave and Paul Townend after winning the County Hurdle in 2015 “class =” js-imageLoader “data-at-xn =” https://www.rp-assets.com/images/news/2019/ 10 /20/70096-medium.jpeg “data-br-n =” https://www.rp-assets.com/images/news/2019/10/20/70096-medium.jpeg “data-br-m = “https://www.rp-assets.com/images/news/2019/10/20/70096-large.jpeg” data-br-w = “https://www.rp-assets.com/images / news / 2019/10/20/70096-large.jpeg “data-br-xw =” https://www.rp-assets.com/images/news/2019/10/20/70096-large.jpeg ” onclick = “return false;”>
Wicklow Brave and Paul Townend after winning the County Hurdle in 2015
Jason appears with the lead rope and moans when he sees the leg. He leans in like he’s going to get sick. I put a hand on his shoulder. What can you say Screens rise around us with a whoosh and a vet appears. If there’s anything that can be done we’ll try it, I tell him, knowing that I sound silly but saying it anyway.
She doesn’t recognize me. Maybe I didn’t say it loud enough. She injects him with pain medication. A horse-drawn ambulance backs up through the screens. Beep. Beep. Beep. We’re going to get him off the track, the vet told me.
I’m really not sure about that. Wicklow is basically lifted in the back by four tall Americans. I’m definitely against it now, and I don’t think it would happen again. I jump with him.
I think a familiar smell for the horse and a familiar face for Jason won’t hurt, and also, more selfishly, I don’t want to start repeating the same line to a bunch of unfamiliar faces in the ring. parade.
Jason is head to head with the horse. He’s a married man, he’s been around horses for a long time, but he’s not doing well. Wicklow either; his head is bowed, his ears on either side, steam and sweat escaping from him, mingling with Jason’s tears.
He has a man’s love for Wicklow and it breaks him inside. I’m emotionally flat by the minute, I’m right there physically, ready to help in any way. I know the drill in these situations, you actually go there, you do what needs to be done and then you go away to talk about something else.
But it’s usually over much faster than that too. This is not how we do things at home. Wicklow tries to descend several times, shock sets in according to the vet. It is much easier to hear this kind of news than it is to see it.
The horse box finally stops and the rear door opens, letting steam and heat escape and letting in light. We’re in the woods at the bottom of the trail and Wicklow is out.
“title =” Wicklow Brave won 17 of his 59 starts “class =” js-imageLoader “data-at-xn =” https://www.rp-assets.com/images/news/2018/09/09/ 48957 -medium.jpeg “data-br-n =” https://www.rp-assets.com/images/news/2018/09/09/48957-medium.jpeg “data-br-m =” https: / /www.rp-assets.com/images/news/2018/09/09/48957-large.jpeg “data-br-w =” https://www.rp-assets.com/images/news/2018 / 09/09/48957-large.jpeg “data-br-xw =” https://www.rp-assets.com/images/news/2018/09/09/48957-large.jpeg “onclick =” return false; “>
Wicklow Brave has won 17 of his 59 starts
The beauty of the immediate area, the sun shining through the tall trees with their autumn leaves, contrasts sharply with the reality of the situation.
The vet injects Wicklow again and he descends quickly and silently. There are definitely worse ways to go.
A girl with big dark glasses hands me some papers to sign. She didn’t say anything. I look up after signing the sheet and see a thin tear slide down her cheek under the sunglasses. “Sorry, this is my first time …” she mumbles.
I would like to tell him that it is getting easier. But this is not the case. Like humans, some horses mean more to us than others and when a horse you love goes like this it’s never easier than before no matter how you try to wrap it up.
Why did we love him? A good question really because he could be a cranky idiot and kick a spider if he wanted to.
Photo gallery: Relive the magnificent career of exceptionally talented Wicklow Brave
If he was in a bad mood, he wouldn’t go anywhere until he wanted to and you could go for a run. He was as good a hurdler horse as I have ridden and yet he was inclined to enter gates, as Ted memorably said.
But I guess because he was good we laughed good rather than curse him. He was Cantona to us for seven years. An adorable and talented thug. His individuality sets him apart.
We have had hundreds of horses here, but none have ridden mentally and physically the way they were. In a yard full of superstars, he had managed to become unique, without being the best.
Jason and I begin to walk slowly towards the stables, an empty bridle between us. I start to say something but find that I don’t trust my voice anymore, something that I’m not inclined to, so I don’t say anything.
I wonder how I must have felt to see the mare descend and never ascend that day at Auteuil in 86. We take the long way back, avoiding the crowds, and continue to walk in the safety of silence.
It might not have been the worst way to bow out. On the big stage, in its splendor. Not for him the slow decline towards mediocrity. Yes, it was the race that won it as such, but without the race we would never have known it the way we did.
Fortune favors the brave, they say in fairy tales. Only when the hero survives though. It was still quite an adventure. Few have been so brave or have found so much fortune. It was a hell of a trick, my friend; you will not be forgotten here.
Originally published in the Irish Field in 2019
Learn more about Wicklow Brave:
Reflections on life, death and thoroughbreds after the cruel loss of Wicklow Brave
Robbie Wilders: Why I Love Wicklow Brave: A Versatile, Tenacious Warrior
Farewell Wicklow Brave: race pays tribute to popular and versatile artist
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FIRST POSTED 12:37 PM, OCT 19 2021