Famous Race Horses - Best Mate Part Two
The first article on Best Mate covered Best Mate’s record 14 wins from 22 starts and his special second-place finishes. This is the second and last article about him which traces his fantastic career, one of the best by a National Hunt race horse.
This article is the second of a two-part article which looks at the fantastic career of Best Mate, arguably one of the best ever National Hunt race horses ever.
You may remember that Part One of this article ended by looking at Best Mate's record of 14 wins from 22 starts, as well as an amazing seven second-placed finishes.
The only ever time that Best Mate did not finish first or second in a race was in his last race, and this was a sad occasion for everyone involved in horse racing.
Tragedy For Best Mate
Well, the 22nd race of his career is one that I would rather forget (along with all of the horse racing loving public) as it was the race where unfortunately Best Mate lost his life.
The only consolation is that he died doing something that he loved, and it showed the bravery of the horse.
He was known to have had a big heart, being a generous horse and always giving 100 per cent. The tragedy happened at Exeter racecourse on 1 November 2005, during the running of the William Hill Haldon Gold Cup race.
Jockey Paul Carberry knew part of the way around the course that the horse was not quite right, and as a precaution pulled the horse up (withdrew from the race). However, in negotiating a way to get off the race track, Best Mate collapsed and though vets fought as hard as they could to revive him, he died moments later.
A True Star
But in the end he went doing what he enjoyed and what he did best. It is a sad reality that we all have to go sometime, but right to very end he did what he did so very well.
A measure of how much he is respected in the horse racing fraternity is the fact that he has a bronze statue of him at Cheltenham racecourse, where his 3 consecutive victories in the Gold Cup are an achievement that may never happen again in my lifetime. He was also voted in to Cheltenham's elite 12 Hall of Fame, another appropriate accolade that this horse fully deserved for his achievements.
Indeed, his ashes are also scattered at the winning post of the same racecourse, and were done so at the request of owner Jim Lewis. The ceremony was held on December 10 2005, even though Lewis' wife had tragically died not two days before that, after a seven month battle against cancer.
The Legend Lives On
And so the legend of Best Mate lives on, with his ashes and the statue standing as majestically as he did at the winning post at Cheltenham. In fact, Best Mate has a brother who is still running.
He is called Cornish Rebel and is right out of the Best Mate mould, a talented horse with a bright future ahead.
I've never felt so attached to a horse, nor a shocked to hear the news of his passing. But he truly was a great horse and his spirit will live long in the heart, even though we will not see him grace the race track again.
I write a lot about my interest in horses and some would even call me a horse racing expert, but I'm really a big fan of the sport and very passionate about it, so I'm not sure if that classes me as an expert.
Which just leaves me to say thanks Best Mate for sharing yourself with the horse racing world. It wouldn't have been the same without you.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cliff Thurston is the owner of Grosvenor Racing Club, which provides horse racing tips to its members. You can also read his renowned horse racing blog for up to date views and news. Cliff has also interviewed several high profile racing experts and these can be accessed via his sites.