Popular National Hunt star bows out

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  • Top-class chaser Tidal Bay has been retired at the age of 13. The Wylies’ gelding won 15 of his 42 starts, including Grade 1s at the Cheltenham Festival, Aintree and Leopardstown.

    He was a horse who was known for doing his own thing, in his own time, his own way — a characteristic which earned him a legion of fans.

    Despite his enigmatic style, he went unbeaten when first campaigned over fences between April 2007 and November 2008, bar 1 race in February when he went down by a neck.

    His CV is headed by major wins in the Arkle, Maghull Novices’ Chase and Cleeve Hurdle for his first trainer Howard Johnson, followed by the bet365 Gold Cup, 2 West Yorkshire Hurdles and a Lexus Chase for Paul Nicholls.

    His penultimate race — predicted beforehand to be his swansong — was the Grand National, for which he was top-weight. He was going well when he unseated jockey Sam Twiston-Davies.

    He was officially retired at a Champions Parade (pictured) at the finale of the National Hunt season last Saturday (26 April) at Sandown Park.

    Paul Nicholls described him as “an absolute legend” and while the horse has been running with credit this season — including third in the Welsh National —connections wanted to retire him at the top and in one piece.

    Although Tidal Bay was very talented, he has had breathing issues and didn’t enjoy training uphill. He has rewarded connections for not attempting to battle with him, but keeping him sweet.

    “He’s a real character, you have to be very careful with him in his box — sometimes he can take half an hour to catch,” Paul told H&H. “His groom Michelle Kramer and him get on fine, but she’s often covered in bruises from his bites.”

    Owen Graham Wylie talked of the “pleasure and great days out” their horse had provided.

    “He always does his best work at the end of the race and that gives us many exciting days,” he said. “His stable is his castle, though — woe betide anyone who enters his box without fear of being bitten.”

    He won £812,978 prize-money.


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