Terry Selby, one of the three co-authors of Hunter Chasers and Point-to Pointers 2004 has dismissed as “ludicrous” the idea that Llanfillin Lady is officially the worst racehorse in Britain.
As reported in the press last weekend, the 11-year-old mare is indeed the lowest rated point-to-pointer in the guide, but there are hundreds of horses that do not even merit a rating.
The authors of Hunter Chasers and Point-to-Pointers 2004 are known for their candid descriptions of both horses and riders who feature in the point-to-point season, and their attitude towards the publication is clear.
It is meant to be honest, often with an added twist of humour, and although it seems a little extreme on occasions, as Terry rightly points out, “being sued for libel by a horse is not one of my major concerns”.
“A fat, tubed, lumbering hulk” is apparently a fair description of Llanfillin Lady, a horse who has been tubed (an operation to improve a horse’s breathing) and has come last in every race she has finished. But she has at least managed to finish the course three times, making her a star performer compared to many other pointers who appear in the bible of the point-to-point enthusiast.
Four by Two is described by Terry as “a better candidate for the worst horse ever”. Still racing at 21 years of age, the gelding ran in 66 point-to-point races between 1978-1989, of which 56 he failed to finish.
“The most ancient horse in training, but is still too young to remember the owner-rider’s last winner”, the description continues “pulled up for the 50th time in Points at Larkhill, and this magnificent achievement is surely worthy of inclusion in the Guinness Book of Records.”
While the book provides a brilliant and helpful guide to form for point-to-pointers and hunter chasers, it could not by any stretch of the imagination be interpreted as an “official” guide. Instead, it provides a witty, astute and occasionally hilarious analysis of a horse’s ability and current form.
Mr Selby told HHO: “In point-to-points, the range of ability is enormous. Some horses may be particularly good or particularly bad, but exactly the same is true of jockeys in the point-to-point world. Sometimes you see girls riding once simply in order to be able to add it to their CV. This has an enormous impact on the performance of the horse, and has to be taken into consideration.”
Hunter Chasers and Point-to-Pointers 2004, Mackenzie, Selby and Harris, is published by Weatherby Chase, £40. For more information or to purchase the book (tel: 01202 888200).