Magazine article The Spectator

Ups and Downs

Magazine article The Spectator

Ups and Downs

Article excerpt

Life is all about perspective, as was first brought home to me by the tale of the small boy at Rome's arena-side plucking at his parent's toga-sleeve and complaining: `Look, Daddy, that poor lion hasn't got a Christian.' I was glad on Saturday that when the aptly-named Young Spartacus, by Teenoso out of Celtic Slave, won the Racing Post Chase at Kempton his trainer Henry Daly was absent saddling another winner at Haydock. We racing scribes always tend to concentrate on trainers rather than on those who pay the bills and if Henry Daly had been present we might have missed the chance to talk to an owner with a particularly good sense of perspective.

Propelling his wheelchair forward to congratulate jockey Richard Johnson and the horse, who had burst a blood vessel at the very end of the race, giving his all in a driving finish, Bart Hellyer was positively radiating a delight which we were all able to share. Mr Hellyer told us that this was the biggest success yet for his family of smallscale owner-breeders, the sort who keep the whole sport going. His father Andrew had bought Young Spartacus's great-grandmother, Brand X, winner of the Mildmay at Aintree. They bred Branded Slave from her, and her daughter was Celtic Slave, Young Spartacus's mum. They had watched them all grow up.

Mr Hellyer himself had been a rider, winning a handful of point-to-points, until one day at the age of 20 some 30 years ago when a fall at the Garthorpe broke his back and put him in Stoke Mandeville for six months and in his wheelchair for life. What the fall did not do was to diminish his enthusiasm for the wonderful sport of jump racing. `You love the game. You can't blame a horse for something like that,' he said. It just made him change direction a little, so he became an international lawyer specialising in personal injuries. `Well, I had to do something sitting down.' I certainly wouldn't mind having one of Celtic Slave's sons as Young Spartacus showed real courage in winning at what is probably his absolute maximum distance of three miles. Commanche Court ran a fast-finishing cracker in second place and for the future do not discard Tremallt. He and poor Tom Jenks, who deserves more better-class rides, had led all the way looking good until toppling at the last.

There was sadness at Haydock, meanwhile. We lost one of the boldest and bravest when Peter Beaumont's Young Kenny, winner of 11 races over jumps, broke a leg and had to be put down. …

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