The results of Class 3 handicap hurdles are rarely particularly newsworthy, rarely elicit much emotion beyond the confines of the winner’s enclosure, especially if the first two home are 33-1 shots. The Class 3 Pertemps Handicap Hurdle (Series Qualifier) at Newbury last month was a different story, however, because it was won by Fair Along. Horses such as Fair Along are the reason jump racing exerts such a hold on its followers.
Spirit son sustained a tendon injury before last season’s Champion Hurdle, which was a bitter blow in itself. Following treatment to repair the tendon, he went to Charlie and Tracy Vigors’ Hillwood Stud where we rest and summer so many of our horses and especially [owner] Michael Buckley’s.
He had been there six weeks when Charlie rang me early on a Sunday morning – I was in Glasgow airport returning from the Scottish Grand National meeting – to say they had found Spirit Son on the floor of his box and unable to get up.