The remarkable patience and care shown by Jess Westwood, a 23-year-old trainer from Chulmleigh in Devon, in nursing back to health her injured racehorse Monkerty Tunkerty is being rewarded now that the 12-year-old gelding is back to full fitness and his winning ways on the racecourse.
Monkerty Tunkerty, a popular racehorse affectionately known as ‘Monkey’, sustained a deep six-inch cut to his leg during a race at Wincanton in January 2014. The nature of the injury not only threatened the horse's career but also his life.
Speaking about the day of the injury Jess said: "The vets at Wincanton did a fantastic job. I can't praise them enough - they spent two and a half hours stitching him up. My vet came the following morning and Monkey had everything chucked at him. He's our horse, we didn't care whether he'd race again, we just wanted to get him sound and happy."
The situation was complicated by Monkey’s susceptibility to lymphangitis (an infection caused by the inflammation of the lymphatic system), which can be triggered by the smallest of cuts. Jess was extremely mindful of this, and in order to ensure a smooth and full recovery Jess provided 24 hour care.
"I took his temperature every two hours throughout the day and night. I also had to walk him up and down every two hours, just ten yards this way and back, because if he was left standing still he'd contract lymphangitis through having reduced circulation”.
All the hard work and TLC paid off. Jess eased Monkey back into exercise and competitions, starting with a local show jumping competition, before committing to a return to the racetrack. He finished third on his comeback run at Wincanton on Boxing Day, and then went on to win the Somerset National at the same course in January, a year on from his injury.
Jess, who was left partially blind in one eye after she fell during a point-to-point three years ago and is consequently unable to race competitively again, is now dedicated to being the most successful trainer she can be to Monkey and her five other horses. If the love and care she shows for Monkey is anything to go by, Jess is certainly one to watch.
The strong bond between Monkey and Jess is clear. The Racing Post’s Steve Dennis summarised the relationship by saying: “Monkerty Tunkerty is to Westwood what The Pie was to Velvet Brown, what Champion the Wonder Horse was to little Ricky North, and although she may evince a lack of interest in her own health, she takes that of her horse very seriously.”
ITV West Country visited Monkerty Tunkerty and Jess to find out more.