Lough Derg's spirit simply beyond price

Without owners, nothing. The sport of racing is predicated on the desire of men and women to find out if their horse can run faster than that of the next man or woman; everything else – trainers, jockeys, breeders, racecourses, bookmakers – follows. And most owners get nothing much for their trouble, for the overwhelming majority of horses are, basically, not much good. It is reckoned that less than five per cent ever pay for themselves in cash terms.

But the ownership of even a bad horse can bring a massive return in that unquantifiable commodity, pleasure, though it remains to be seen in these straitened times how many will continue to be willing to pay for that luxury. Get a good one, though, and it's a case of bread and marg sooner than deprive him of his hay and oats. Just ask Bill Frewen. Or Betty Kiernan. Or even Victor Chandler and Clive Smith.

All right, none, particularly the last two-named, is exactly at the point yet where they have to swop sea-salt-studded Isigny for Stork. But no price could be put on the pride and emotion they felt severally as they stood in the winner's enclosure at Ascot on Saturday.

"I work in the City," said Frewen, owner of Lough Derg. "Unfortunately. But this horse is just such an antidote to what has been happening over the past year. If things get too depressing, I just stick the video on and watch him for the nth time."

Lough Derg's performance to win the two-and-a-half mile Grade Two handicap hurdle under top-weight for the second successive year was indeed heartening. The nine-year-old is a rare horse to have paid for himself, and more; he has now won 11 of his 39 starts, first for Martin Pipe and now for his son David, and has earned more than £300,000. But his qualities go way beyond that. He is a character: a bit of a waster at home but so tough and brave on the track, and is the best-loved horse in his Devon yard.

The French-bred, plain and bay, has been at Pond House since babyhood. "He looked nothing special," said Pipe père, "wasn't that big, didn't move well. And he's been a rascal right from the start. But he soon showed us that he'd got what a racehorse needs. A heart."

At one of the Pipe owners' days, Frewen bought the ugly duckling three-year-old as a 70th birthday gift for his mother, Irene. "I'd had a few glasses of champagne," he said, "and people were telling me which one I should have. Then I saw him and said I'll have that one, the shuffling one. I'm no judge of a horse and it was a complete fluke. Especially for 15 grand."

Lough Derg, who may well have been hewn rather than foaled, is set to turn out again on Saturday at Cheltenham.

"He won't put himself out at home," added Frewen, "he's a bit of a jack the lad behind the scenes. He saves himself for the racecourse. He's just a proper professional at his job."

Panjo Bere, who upstaged Calgary Bay and Free World to win the feature novices' chase, provided Betty Kiernan with a most poignant victory. Her husband, Bob, a longtime owner in Gary Moore's yard near Brighton, died last year, but not before he saw his young horse's potential. "This is a sweet moment," Mrs Kiernen said after the six-year-old earned himself a trip to Cheltenham for the Arkle Trophy, "but a bittersweet one too. Bob would be very proud."

For Chandler, the enormously wealthy bookmaker, the ownership of Zaynar is also proving something of a consolation. He and six friends (who dub themselves Men In Our Position on the racecard) also had 1,000 Guineas prospect Tiger Eye, who died last month from leukaemia, a disease extremely rare in horses.

Zaynar may yet provide them with glory on a glittering stage; the Nicky Henderson-trained four-year-old retained his position as Triumph Hurdle favourite after making it two from two over hurdles on Saturday.

Smith is one of those owners with the Midas touch. After Royal Auclair, second in a Grand National, came Kauto Star and Master Minded. His latest pricey purchase, Free World, looks sure to have his days in the future.

Master Minded emerged from Saturday's imperious tour de force in the Victor Chandler Chase in sparkling fettle and has the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury next month on his agenda before the defence of his Champion Chase crown at Cheltenham.

*The British Horseracing Authority have yet to receive an application for a licence to race from the administrators dealing with the financial difficulties surrounding Great Leighs racecourse. A temporary licence for the troubled Essex track expired on Thursday; without one, it cannot be sold as a going concern.

*Today's turf card at Lingfield has been abandoned due to waterlogging.

Suggested Topics
News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

News
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Sport
Fans of Palmeiras looks dejected during the match between Palmeiras and Santos
footballPalmeiras fan killed trying to 'ambush' bus full of opposition supporters
Arts and Entertainment
filmsIt's nearly a wrap on Star Wars: Episode 7, producer reveals
Life and Style
fashion
News
i100
News
<p>Jonathan Ross</p>
<p>Jonathan Ross (or Wossy, as he’s affectionately known) has been on television and radio for an extraordinarily long time, working on a seat in the pantheon of British presenters. Hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for nine years, Ross has been in everything from the video game Fable to Phineas and Ferb. So it’s probably not so surprising that Ross studied at Southampton College of Art (since rebranded Southampton Solent), a university known nowadays for its media production courses.</p>
<p>However, after leaving Solent, Ross studied History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, now part of the UCL, a move that was somewhat out of keeping with the rest of his career. Ross was made a fellow of the school in 2006 in recognition of his services to broadcasting.</p>
TV

Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey indulge in some racing at a Point to Point
tvNew pictures promise a day at the races and a loved-up Lady Rose
News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Wonnacott dancing the pasadoble
TVStrictly Come Dancing The Result
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£22000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Thame i...

Graduate Project Manager

£25000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

PPA Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Teaching Assistant Cornwall

£45 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Plymouth: TEACHING ASSISTANTS REQUIRED F...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past