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Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

‘There are some horses you just cannot wait to ride – Fondmort was one’

Henderson and Fitzgerald pay tribute after death of Cheltenham specialist

Fondmort: one of Mick Fitzgerald's favourite horses
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Fondmort, a multiple winner and Cheltenham Festival hero for Nicky Henderson and Mick Fitzgerald, has died aged 22.

The son of Cyborg joined Henderson from France and struck up a fine partnership with Fitzgerald, the pair winning eight races together, victories that were often illuminated by some spectacular leaps.

Their most notable success came at the 2006 festival, when they combined to win the Ryanair Chase by a length and a quarter from Lacdoudal.

Fitzgerald said on Friday: "There are some horses when you're a jockey that you just cannot wait to ride – Fondmort was one. You knew he would meet every fence right.

"Unfortunately they changed the conditions of the Topham too late for him. He ran in the Grand National once, but wouldn't have got the trip in a horsebox. However, he'd have been nigh on unbeatable round that course over the Topham distance."

He added: "Fondmort wasn't the very best horse I rode, but he was definitely one of my favourites. He was so reliable."

Henderson, who trained Fondmort for Bill and Tracy Brown throughout his career in Britain, said: "It's very sad. He was a very special horse, a favourite at the yard and we had seriously good fun with him.

"He was a brilliant jumper and absolutely loved Cheltenham. One day they took nearly all the fences out, and he was still brilliant.

"There is a picture of him jumping the last at Cheltenham – it's just extraordinary."


FONDMORT IN NUMBERS

22 age

9 wins

38 runs

165 highest Racing Post Rating

£422,152 prize-money earned

4 Cheltenham wins


The champion trainer also paid tribute to Fondmort's owners, whose actions enabled him to enjoy a long and happy retirement after he suffered a severe injury to his pelvis, which resulted in an end to his racing career in 2006.

"He fractured his pelvis and things didn't look good," said Henderson. "He was in hospital for a very long time, but there was never a question his owners weren't going to save him.

"There were two great parts to his life – he had a wonderful racing career and then a very happy retirement."

Fondmort thrived at the home of jump racing, winning four times at the course, including his Ryanair victory.

As well as his Ryanair success, Fondmort's excellent festival record included placed efforts in the Festival Trophy (the year before it became the Ryanair) and twice in the Mildmay of Flete (now the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate). 

He also claimed the Paddy Power Gold Cup, Tripleprint Gold Cup – both at Cheltenham – and the Henry VIII Novices' Chase at Sandown, and finished his career with nine wins from 38 starts, amassing over £400,000 in total prize-money.

 

He was a very special horse, a favourite at the yard and we had seriously good fun with him
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