I didn’t write anything about Delatite’s very exciting win at Sedgefield on 3 October, partly because it was the first day of Book 1 of the October Sale and the middle of a long sales run of churning out reports day after day, and partly because I felt, quite reasonably at the time, that it was the first successful step on what might be a long career ahead.
Apart from being slow to come to hand and once impersonating a kangaroo to attempt to jump out of his stable from a standstill, Delatite has never really given us a moment’s concern, and there aren't many five-year-olds you can say that about.
|Delatite on the Al Bahathri last week with Ivona|
Delatite had been showing such a turn of foot, both in the way he won his bumper by nine lengths and in his increasingly impressive work at home, that John had been emboldened to try for a maiden on the Flat and we both felt pretty confident that he wouldn’t be disgraced. By the time I got home from Ascot, however, John told me we wouldn’t be going to Pontefract as the horse appeared to have a foot abscess and was lame. I remember being bitterly disappointed that he would miss a few weeks’ work and would probably end up running during the next round of foal and mare sales when I would once again be unable to be there. I’d happily settle for that situation now given the events of the last few days.
After several days of strong antibiotic injections to try to reduce what NEH vet Stuart Williamson correctly felt was a leg infection rather than a foot problem, Delatite’s condition worsened by such a degree that on Tuesday evening Stuart decided he had to go into the hospital for further examination. Despite there being no outward sign of how the infection could have started, X-rays revealed that it had got into his hind fetlock joint and the suspensory ligament, a troubling assessment which meant that he would require surgery to save him, with no real guarantee of a positive outcome.
I spent much of Tuesday night awake fretting about whether or not be would be able to be stabilised sufficiently for it be safe for him to undergo general anaesthetic but he had rallied a bit by Wednesday morning and into surgery he went. Thankfully, he came through that and, 24 hours on, remains under observation in a leg cast in the ICU looking half the horse he was as he cantered around the heath on Saturday morning.
There have been happy moments this week, and Sussex Girl winning her second race in less than a week was certainly a highlight. It has in fact been a particularly pleasing second half of the season for this stable. The horses are currently running at about a 40% winning strike-rate, which is incredible, and from my own perspective I’ve been hugely fortunate to see my colours carried to victory five times this season – the first four by the mighty Hope Is High, who is now on her winter holiday, and most recently by Delatite.
As much as I love Hope, who has now won five races and has never been unplaced for us, it was Delatite’s win that meant the most and will remain one of the best racing days for me, even though I couldn’t be there. I bred Delatite from the first racehorse I ever rode when I arrived in Newmarket. Dear old Desiree has been a bit of a hopeless broodmare until this horse came along, but like her son she has a lovely nature and has been a very good mother to her foals.
It’s unclear what the future holds for Delatite. If he can survive beyond the weekend, and another week or so in NEH, then hopes for him having some kind of comfortable life in retirement will improve. At this stage it seems unlikely he can ever return to being a racehorse but only time will tell. The only thing I do know is that I’d give back every single win and happy day of the year for this never to have happened to him.