Connections lament passing of quirky but talented Pilgrims Bay
Pilgrims Bay was remembered on Monday as a characterful individual with deep reserves of ability, after the 2017 BetBright Handicap Chase winner died of a rare infection.
The eight-year-old is best remembered for his success over subsequent King George runner-up and Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Double Shuffle at Kempton a year ago in the race formerly run as the Racing Post Chase when jockey James Best perfectly executed exaggerated waiting tactics.
Best said: “He gave me the biggest day of my career so far and I’ll forever be grateful to him and to his connections for that. Everything was in his favour that day at Kempton and he was a very good horse when he had things his way.
“He became known for being quirky, but he had heaps of ability too. Once you knew how to ride him then he was more than capable.”
Pilgrims Bay started his career with David Pipe before moving to Neil Mulholland, but raced throughout in the familiar red-and-yellow silks of Wayne and Sarah Clifford, who co-owned him with two others.
Wayne Clifford said: “He was always a quirky bugger but was also a good horse.
“I remember his first race at Ffos Las, when he looked like he was going to win by 20 lengths before he nearly pulled himself up. I was so convinced he was going to win that I’d already started walking to the bookies to pick up my winnings from the £20 I’d had each-way.
“Once we figured he needed horses around him all the time to be at his best he was getting better and better with his racing, so it’s such a shame he had an infection. We took him in three times for surgery but there was nothing we could do about it.”
Mulholland took charge of Pilgrims Bay midway through 2016 and saddled him for victories at Sandown and then Kempton, as well as for a fifth in this season’s Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury.
“Kempton and Sandown were two very good days, very memorable,” said Mulholland. “We didn’t have him for very long and he was a character, but everyone in the yard loved him, especially my head girl Maisie Bush. It’s very sad and a big loss.”
Pilgrims Bay won three of his 20 races and was placed eight times, earning £95,140 in prize-money.
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