Aidan coleman

Clash of the two-mile titans

The engine wasn’t what it was, they said. At ten years old the spark that had once made him a champion was flickering only intermittently at best. The fire in his belly had gone out. There had been five runs since his last victory and when Paisley Park, a horse who once nearly died of colic, whipped round at the start of Cheltenham’s Cleeve Hurdle last Saturday and gave his four top-class rivals a start of some 15 lengths it seemed all over. Ruby Walsh, the greatest Cheltenham jockey of them all, was watching for ITV. Asked if he would now persevere on Paisley Park he replied: ‘No, you don’t.

Does horse-racing have a future?

Asked, after his Imperial Aura’s impressive win in the Northern Trust Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, if he had been worried about one particular challenger in the race, Kim Bailey wryly replied: ‘Of course I was worried. I’m a racehorse trainer.’ Trainers now have a lot more to worry about. When we finally resume racing — and few expect it to be after the six weeks originally announced — how many of the 14,000 racehorses in training as the suspension was announced will be coming back? How many owners whose businesses have suffered from Covid-19 will see paying bills for forage, farriers and vets’ attentions as a priority