Racing: Accident kills Old favourite

Al Mutahm, a Group race winner on the flat and a 33-1 chance for the Champion Hurdle, was destroyed yesterday after severing a tendon in the Ramsbury Hurdle at Newbury.

Jim Old's gelding was having his second outing since being bought for pounds 80,000 by the composer Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber as a birthday present for his wife, Madeleine. Al Mutahm was widely expected to account for two inferior rivals and was sent off the hot favourite at 4-11, but he was pulled up soon after the cross flight, four from home, by his jockey, Jamie Osborne. Sun Surfer duly recorded a simple success.

'I felt his stride go on landing and initially thought he had broken a leg,' Osborne said. Al Mutahm was taken back to the racecourse stables, but a veterinary examination concluded that there was no hope of saving him.

'I feel so sorry for Jim, he knew Al Mutahm much longer than I did,' Lady Lloyd Webber said. 'He was a gorgeous horse and it's very sad. I certainly hope to have another horse with Jim.'

While the loss will be felt keenly by the Lloyd Webbers, for Old it will be a source of particular distress. After training successfully from a yard near Bristol for several years, during which time he sent out Cima to be placed in the Champion Hurdle, Old was forced to seek fresh accommodation when a ferocious and persistent virus took hold of his string. Although his fortunes took time to recover after a move to Ditcheat in Somerset, it was Al Mutahm who finally announced a return to form by winning the Group Three Sagaro Stakes at Ascot, Old's first Pattern race success. For a small yard such as his, the publicity garnered by a consistently high-class performer is more valuable than a dozen advertisements in The Sporting Life.

Al Mutahm's fatal injury might have occurred anywhere, and his connections attached no blame to the ground at Newbury, which was adjudged to be just the right side of raceable after a frosty night and two inspections yesterday morning. Several trainers disagreed, and the tally of non-runners rose to 16 during the course of the afternoon.

Three were missing from the Elcot Park Novice Chase, in which Travelling Wrong was the 4-5 favourite to record his fourth success in as many starts under Rules. Yet his trainer, David Nicholson, was far from convinced that his charge deserved to be so short, and was proved correct when Travelling Wrong could finish only third to Young Hustler after making a series of bad mistakes.

'He had won three 'Mickey Mouse' races and was always likely to be beaten by Young Hustler,' Nicholson said.

The overnight temperatures have been resolutely sub-zero for several days, but the much-promised thaw may soon arrive. The chances for Sedgefield's meeting tomorrow are rated no more than 50-50 by the clerk of the course, but Lingfield is hopeful that its card will survive an inspection this afternoon. Worcester, due to race on Thursday, reports no problems.

(Photograph omitted)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?