Johnson: fantastic Reve De Sivola one of best staying hurdlers
Champion jockey Richard Johnson has paid a glowing tribute to Reve De Sivola, who collapsed and died at Kelso on Saturday, saying the 12-year-old "deserved his place in the history books".
The rider of top long-distance stars such as dual Liverpool Hurdle scorer Mighty Man and Cheltenham Stayers' Hurdle star Anzum rated the three-time winner of Ascot's Long Walk Hurdle as "definitely one of the top staying hurdlers, up there with the best I've ridden".
He added: "He was a fantastic horse and had a fantastic career. Nick [Williams] did amazingly well to keep him at the top level for so long and not many go to France and win at the top there as well.
"His Long Walk wins were memorable. He put the other horses under pressure from a long way out – that was what he was best at.
"His win in the Rendlesham last year was especially sweet as a lot of people thought he was too old. I was the first one pushing but he never stopped trying and beat his younger rivals. Gutsy, tough and classy – that was him all over."
Paul Duffy, the majority owner in the partnership, said: "It's hard to focus on his record and highlights – my overall bigger emotion is his loss and being lucky to have been associated with him.
"He walked into the yard from France as a yearling with a two-year-old I had bought and he towered over the two-year-old. I had to have him – he was such an imposing horse.
"Everyone associated with him is devastated and it will take a while to get over it.
"He looked a picture before the race which looked perfect for him as he finally had his ground this season. He travelled so well in front and was in there with a chance to win on his first visit to Scotland, having won in England, Ireland, Wales and France.
"I'm proud to have been associated with him and the other emotion is the sadness that he's not going to have the retirement we were planning for him as this was going to be his last season.
"Daryl [Jacob] was instrumental in making him, being associated with him early on, and he rode a brilliant race to win the third Long Walk, beating Zarkandar in a photo."
Jacob also partnered him to win two other Grade 1s, in the Challow at Newbury and – after finishing second to Peddlers Cross in the Neptune at Cheltenham – the Champion Novice Hurdle at the Punchestown festival.
Jacob, who rode him to five of his ten career successes, said: "I was absolutely gutted when I heard the news. I rode him as a three-year-old and his longevity at the age of 12 is a phenomenally long time to be at the top and is a tribute to everyone.
"He was a wonderful servant to Nick, his owners and me – when starting as stable jockey - and helped get our relationship off to the perfect start.
"I'll never forget the Long Walk at Ascot – he put his heart and soul into it and would never say no when you asked him. The more you asked the more he'd give.
"He was a wonderful character to have around the yard. He was a big, gentle giant, lovely to deal with day to day. He was nothing special in his work – he would just lob away – but loved his racing."
Reve De Sivola also got James Reveley into the Grade 1 groove in France when they won the Grand Prix d'Automne at Auteuil in 2013.
Reveley recalled: "He gave me one of my most thrilling wins, coming from nowhere to give me my first Grade 1 win in France.
"He really picked up after the last when a horse fell in front of him and took off to catch the leader. It was a great buzz.
"He was a really tough horse who wanted heavy ground as he had so much stamina. He enjoyed the French hurdles, but although he was a big scopey horse he never took to chasing."