Goodbye old friends
Gary McKenzie bids farewell to three old friends
Some horses become popular even if they don’t scale the highest highs. Thundering Blue was such a horse, although he did get close to Group One glory to be fair.
I do have a soft spot for a grey horse, so he was always going to be on my radar. He won six of his twenty three races and was placed in another six. His biggest win was in the York Stakes where he had Elarqam back in third. But his best runs were in defeat in two Group Ones.
Thundering Blue was well travelled, taking in races in Sweden, France, and Japan. And he was close to winning the Canadian International at Woodbine where he was just overhauled in the final furlong by Desert Encounter.
But a couple of months before that he had, what I think, his finest hour. Connections decided to reinvest the winnings from the York Stakes and supplement their stable star for the Juddmonte International. It cost them £75,000 and some experts thought David Menuisier had lost the plot.
He was going to be up against the winners of the Dubai World Cup, Irish Derby, St James Palace, Dubai Turf, 2000 Guineas, King George, and Eclipse. Thundering Blue beat all but two of them. And the winner, Roaring Lion, would have been very hard to beat that day. It was the second of his four consecutive Group One wins that summer.
The prize money for third place in the Juddmonte was £114,000 so the £75,000 was well spent.
But he will run no more. Our gorgeous grey suffered an injury at Goodwood on Wednesday and this led to him being put to sleep. As his trainer stated “he was a horse of a lifetime. We will love you forever”
There was even a tweet from a fan in Japan
“The death of THUNDERING BLUE has been widely reported in the news in Japan, and many fans are saddened. And thank you for coming to Japan.”
That shows how much these horses get to us. Rest In Peace old lad
There are two others who we won’t see race again but these two are retiring in good health.
Lady Buttons is known as the “Queen Of Yorkshire” and with good reason. She ran sixteen times in her home county and won on nine of those occasions. At Doncaster she was almost unbeatable losing just once in six starts including twice winning the Grade Two Yorkshire Rose Mares Hurdle for Philip Kirby.
She was so versatile. Hurdles or chases came alike to her (although she only lost twice over fences and both times at Aintree) and she was not ground dependent. And she was one of those horses who had a proper fan base. She really was special and as she is now to be a broodmare. Let’s hope her genes get passed on.
Staying in Yorkshire Bryan Smart has announced the retirement of Alpha Delphini. He started his career over seven furlongs and then ran a couple of times over six before it was realised that he was going to be a specialist at the minimum distance.
His big day was, of course, his Nunthorpe win in 2018. He beat Mabs Cross (they had some battles didn’t they), Blue Point and Battaash and his second behind that horse in the Temple Stakes the following season reads almost as well as his York win.
He will live with his former trainer for what we hope is a long and happy retirement.
♦ Your direct link to Doug Campbell’s 50 Jump Horses to Follow 2020-21 http://wp.me/P8e3Dl-4qC