Young Spartacus toughs it out

One man's love affair with racing, a relationship that has lasted decades and survived the trauma of a broken back, brought sweet reward for devotion here at Kempton yesterday in the afternoon's feature, the Racing Post Chase.

One man's love affair with racing, a relationship that has lasted decades and survived the trauma of a broken back, brought sweet reward for devotion here at Kempton yesterday in the afternoon's feature, the Racing Post Chase.

Bart Hellyer, the winning owner, has been confined to a wheelchair since a point-to-pointing fall 30 years ago; the horse he welcomed to the victory circle was Young Spartacus, an eight-year-old whose great-grand-dam was winning at Aintree in the family colours during the Sixties.

Hellyer saw no reason to desert the sport that put him in Stoke Mandeville for six months, though his enjoyment has, necessarily, been vicarious for some time. But his delight in yesterday's triumph was perhaps the more for its cerebral qualities, being part of the backroom team behind the very existence of Young Spartacus.

"It's definitely one for the small British breeder," he said proudly. "My father, Andrew, bought his great-grandmother Brand X, who won the Mildmay at Liverpool, actually after having had a foal. We bred a mare called Branded Slave from her, and then that one produced Celtic Slave, Young Spartacus' mum, and we've watched them all growing up."

Rutland-based Hellyer's accident prompted a change of direction; he is now an internationally-known personal injury lawyer. The concept of not giving up applied equally to man and horse yesterday, for Young Spartacus returned with blood dripping from his nostrils after his lung-bursting effort to hold Commanche Court's whirlwind finish by a fast-diminishing three-quarters of a length. It was a case of class will out in the contest; the pair were the top-weights.

Young Spartacus, whose trainer Henry Daly was absent, saddling Island Mist to win at Haydock, was one of only five of the 15 who set out with a chance rounding the home turn. Struggles Glory, the 3-1 favourite, blew his chance with a mistake three out and came in fourth; Tremallt, who had led from flag-fall, was still marginally in front when he fell at the last.

Richard Johnston conjured a fine leap from Young Spartacus, taking him clear of Dark Stranger and giving him just enough of a start to keep Commanche Court at bay. "He gave me everything," said Johnston, "which is probably why he bled. He wasn't keeping anything back for himself."

Young Spartacus (neatly named; he is by Teenoso out of Celtic Slave) is entered in the Cathcart Cup and the Mildmay Of Flete Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, both handicaps. But the greater glory of the Gold Cup itself may be facing Irish raider Commanche Court, for which he is now12-1 fifth-choice in most bookmakers' lists.

"No excuses today," said trainer Ted Walsh, "he just didn't get going soon enough, but that was a decent run under top-weight. We won't make any decision about Cheltenham for a week or so."

There were plenty of prospective Cheltenham contenders on show yesterday, both here and at Haydock. But with the dread cloud of foot-and-mouth disease hanging over racing, all the practice may yet be for nothing.

Jump racing's links with the agricultural community are close, as perhaps exemplified by the protagonists in yesterday's feature chase. Struggles Glory, a former point-to-pointer, is trained on a farm and gallant, unlucky Tremallt is housed just three miles from a possible outbreak of the virulent disease in Stroud which, if confirmed, will confine him and his stablemates to quarters.

His trainer, Tom George, on the mark with Royal & Sun-Alliance Novices' Hurdle candidate Historic at Haydock, is stoical. "I haven't heard yet from any official one way or the other," he said, "I'm waiting for the telephone to ring. We're going through all the disinfecting procedures at our entrances but we won't be moving the horses out. The whole point is not to move livestock, so we just have to sit tight and wait."

There has not been a foot-and-mouth outbreak in Ireland for 60 years and Walsh, too, was philosophical. "All we can do is see what develops," he said. "If they close it down they close it down. There'll be no half-measures."

Country life is effectively on hold in this country, with point-to-points and hunt meets already cancelled. Tomorrow's meeting at Newcastle, within an affected area, is the firstto be lost to foot-and-mouth since Haydock on 6 January, 1968 brought racing's last nightmare to an end.

The Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham is going to be an all-French affair, it seems. Bilboa, trained by François Doumen, emulated the performance of her stablemate Snow Drop 12 months previously by strolling home in the Adonis Hurdle. Her display, though, was good enough only to maintain second place in the ante-post lists, behind her compatriot and Chepstow conqueror Jair Du Cochet.

The sport lost one of its most gallant campaginers yesterday when Young Kenny, winner of 11 of his 37 starts and a leading Grand National fancy, broke a hind leg during the De Vere Gold Cup at Haydock, a race won in impressive all-the-way style by the novice Frantic Tan.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant in secondary school Manchester

£11280 - £14400 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Teaching a...

Primary teaching roles in Ipswich

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education re...

Science teachers needed in Norwich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Science teachers requ...

Semi Senior Accountant - Music

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful, Central London bas...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits