Arzal: secured a landmark win for trainer Harry Whittington at AintreePICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Whittington rocked by death of classy Arzal
TRAINER Harry Whittington, who capped a fine campaign by saddling Arzal to win the Grade 1 Manifesto Novices' Chase at Aintree this month, has been left devastated following the death of the classy six-year-old on Tuesday.
Whittington, who trains in Sparsholt, Oxfordshire not far from Lambourn, has enjoyed his best season by far and had been dreaming of what Arzal might achieve in the autumn when stepping out of novice company.
However, the French-bred gelding suffered complications from an infection and injury after his Aintree triumph.
"He got an infection in one of his hind legs after Aintree and that was a very bad infection, but there was nothing untoward with the leg," said Whittington.
"However, he picked up a slight injury in his other hind leg and the infection managed to pass through his body and get into the tendon where he'd picked up an injury in the race.
"He was referred to hospital as there was a lot of pain around the tendon area. He'd had surgery to try to get control of the infection, which was deteriorating his tendon.
"Having tried everything, they couldn't get control of it and he was left with a severely damaged tendon and we had to call it a day."
'He brought us so much elation'
Owned by The Hennessy Six, Arzal won five of his 14 starts and £106,639 in prize-money.
"We'd had a fantastic season for and he'd flown the flag," added Whittington. "It's a major blow and we're all devastated. He's a standout horse in a small yard who brought us so much elation; me, the staff, the owners.
"He was the first thing I thought of most morning because I couldn't wait to see him on the gallops. He loves his work and was a joy to everyone involved. He'll be sorely missed.
"He wasn't the easiest horse to train early on because he wanted to do everything a million miles an hour, but the team had done such a brilliant job to get him to a stage where he was relaxed enough and more professional.
"Having done all that hard work I really feel he'd have gone on to win another Grade 1."