Former racehorse Laghat has attracted a legion of fans over the years, thanks to his amazing ability to win races despite being blind.
The 16-year-old, who was bred and raced in Italy, caught a virus as a yearling before a fungal infection, called mycosis, attacked both of his eyes. This left him totally blind in his right eye and 95% blind in the left.
Despite his battles early on in life, Laghat proved a remarkably easy horse to break in. He went on to make a winning racecourse debut in January 2006 at San Rossore in Pisa, Italy, before triumphing by six lengths on his second start 15 days later.
“Laghat has a sixth sense, which tells him where to put his legs,” said owner Federico de Paola, who also rode the horse in amateur races.
Laghat raced in low-level handicap contests and stakes races, ridden by apprentice jockey Giuseppe Virdis. He raced an impressive 123 times — from 2006 until 2015 — and won 26 of those, while being placed in 30 other races. He earned a total of €112,000 in prize money throughout his career.
According to connections, after losing a race Laghat would kick and bite his stable companion, however, following a victory he’d be quiet and relaxed.
Ahead of his 20th win in the spring of 2012, the Italian media started to catch onto this horse’s unique and special story, and he became known as the “blind beauty”.
Elizabeth hopes that Rio will inspire other riders of partially sighted or blind horses not to give up on them
If you want to keep up with the latest from the equestrian world without leaving home, grab a H&H subscription
Author Enrico Querci wrote a novel about Laghat’s life in 2014, while an illustrated children’s book sold out in just a month in 2018.
Laghat retired in November 2015, with a special event held at San Rossore racecourse.
Norwegian Fjord horse, Cerere, now keeps him company during his much-deserved retirement, and he is very popular with schoolchildren, who come to visit him regularly.
Would you like to read Horse & Hound’s independent journalism without any adverts? Join Horse & Hound Plus today and you can read all articles on HorseandHound.co.uk completely ad-free.