Racing: Sabin retires with honour

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The Independent Online
SABIN DU LOIR, a stalwart of jump racing for 10 seasons, was retired yesterday as a reward for winning the John Bull Chase at Wincanton on Thursday. The eyebrows that were raised when the horse was sent into action again at the age of 14 can now be safely lowered, writes Paul Hayward at Ascot.

'Just about my favourite horse,' is how Martin Pipe, the trainer, described Sabin Du Loir here yesterday while reflecting on a career that produced three victories over Desert Orchid and one over Dawn Run from a total of 21 wins. 'He couldn't be in better shape but the owner wants him to go out on a winning note,' Pipe said.

Sabin Du Loir's first major success was at the Cheltenham Festival way back in 1983, and despite serious injuries to both forelegs he was a durable and consistent performer right up to his dogged triumph at Wincanton. In that, he epitomised the difference between jumping and the more ephemeral cycles of Flat racing.

Horses' ailments were again in focus at Ascot when Steve Kettlewell, trainer of Valiant Boy, revealed that his winner of the Lightning Chase has been administered dantrium, which is used to treat muscular dystrophy in humans. Therapy for Wonder Man, the season's leading two-mile novice, could not prevent him missing this race with a punctured left foot.

On the Gold Cup front, Jenny Pitman's news blackout continues to be less of a problem than it would have been in previous years. Her Garrison Savannah fell behind Sabin Du Loir on Thursday and yesterday Royal Athlete, another Pitman longshot for the Festival, was soundly beaten behind Sweet Glow in the final race.

One brighter sight was the talented but injury-prone Mutare rising to his feet after falling in the First National Chase and spending minutes laying winded on the turf. The winner was the promising Very Very Ordinary.

(Photograph omitted)