Best Mate’s owner Jim Lewis will decide in the next few days on the final resting place for Best Mate’s ashes, following the cremation of the three-time Gold Cup winner yesterday morning.
Best Mate’s body was transported from Exeter racecourse to the equine crematorium at Cheltenham after Devon Country Trading Standards department blocked plans for the burial to take place outside the racetrack rails at the spot where he died.
MPs have demanded an explanation as to why permission was refused for Best Mate to be buried at Exeter. Agencies including the Environment Agency, Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs and Trading Standards ruled that burial at Exeter racecourse would not be permitted, despite both Lewis and the racecourse wishing for the horse to remain there.
Best Mate honoured
Officials at Cheltenham have put plans into motion to name a race in memory of Best Mate. A permanent memorial will also be constructed to commemorate his achievements at Prestbury Park.
The triple Gold Cup winner’s tribute race might not appear in the programme at next year’s Festival. According to Edward Gillespie, managing director at Cheltenham, the racecourse will take time choosing a suitable race.
Red Blazer moves home
Red Blazer will fill Best Mate’s empty box at Henrietta Knight’s Lockinge stables.
Knight saddled the 14-year-old Red Blazer to nine successes from 27 starts before he was retired after finishing last in a chase at Kempton in February 2003.
Channel 4 will pay tribute to Best Mate with Saturday’s edition of The Morning Line showing a celebration of his achievements. French racing will also honour Best Mate by renaming Sunday’s Tierce Handicap at Auteuil’s new winter jumps festival as the Prix Best Mate.
Terrible week for Knight
Henrietta Knight has been fined £1,000 and Timmy Murphy banned for 14 days over the running and riding of Harringay at Towcester. The 9-4 chance finished fifth in the two-mile novices’ hurdle, beaten by more than 13 lengths. The stewards ruled the mare had been “tenderly ridden” and fined Knight, as well as suspending Murphy and banning the horse from running between 8 November and 17 December. Knight is shocked and disappointed and has stated that she will take legal advice.
Groom found dead
Paul Matthews, a groom for James Fanshawe in Newmarket, was found dead on Wednesday. Matthews, 41, is the second member of the stable’s staff to die this year. Police are investigating his death but circumstances do not appear to be suspicious. Matthews joined Fanshawe two years ago, having previously worked for John Gosden and Henry Cecil.
British horses disappoint in Oz
Distinction and Franklins Gardens, the two British-trained contenders in the Melbourne Cup, both ran well below their best. Stewards reported afterwards that Franklins Gardens was sore on his off-foreleg after the five-year-old had been virtually pulled up when trailing home last of the 24 runners. His participation had been in doubt on Saturday after a hind leg problem was discovered following morning exercise. Distinction, who finished in sixth place in the Melbourne Cup a year ago, proved a big disappointment to jockey Mick Kinane, finishing 19th.
Ouija Board set for Japan
Ouija Board will continue her international exploits in the year’s richest race on turf, the Japan Cup in Tokyo on 27 November. The four-year-old was runner-up to Intercontinental in last weekend’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Trainer Ed Dunlop has high hopes for the quicker ground in Japan, feeling it will be more favourable than at Belmont.
End of Race Tech handlers
The contracts of 55 stall handlers currently employed by RaceTech expire tomorrow, with many of the men preparing to leave the industry for good. The team, who will work together for the last time at Doncaster are rumoured to be unfurling a banner displaying the word “conspiracy” although there are not believed to be any plans to disrupt the races.
Lester Piggot will turn 70 on Saturday. Piggot rode his first winner, The Chase, at Haydock Park in 1948 when he was 12 years old. The legendary jockey went on to ride over 4,000 winners in Britain, capturing nine Derby titles between 1954 and 1983 and three Prix de l’Arc de Triomphes.