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Sherwood praises ‘tough madam’ Surtee Du Berlais after her battle for life

Brightening your day with turf tales from beyond the tracks

Surtee Du Berlais (far side) winning the Listed OLBG Mares; Hurdle at Kempton in November
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Good news indeed emerged from the Oliver Sherwood yard this week – Listed-winning hurdler Surtee Du Berlais, who almost lost her life following an allergic reaction, has now been discharged from Lambourn Valley Equine Hospital and is ready for a long summer holiday.

The seven-year-old (pictured above), who had been aimed at Cheltenham, picked up a small cut when finishing third in a Pertemps qualifier at Chepstow. The cut was treated with antibiotics, but a severe reaction resulted in immediate admission to the hospital.

“For four days her life hung in the balance and it was down to her determination to live along with the diligent care of all at the Lambourn Valley Equine – and in particular my vet of nearly 30 years Paul Ferguson along with Gracie O’Sullivan and Charlotte Hewitt Dedman – [that she survived],” says trainer Oliver Sherwood.

“The girls were so excited when Surtee eventually passed her first proper dropping they took pictures to send to me . . . it was a memorable moment!

“Janine Hamilton, who rides her at home also visited her every day with buckets of grass to tempt her back to health.

“A huge thank you to Paul, Charlotte, Gracie, Becky and Janine along with everyone at the practice – and also to Surtee for being such a tough madam.”

Why Hadden he brought a saddle?

Here's an image of Hadden Frost you don’t see too often – riding bareback, without a bit, and dressed in pink.

The jockey donned his unconventional style on board former racehorse Templer in the 2m4f Isle of Wight Grand National to raise money for John Radcliffe Hospital. Young rider Freddie Fletcher, who made headlines earlier this week when finishing fourth in a charity pony race on the same day, was recently treated at the Oxford hospital.

Hadden Frost and Templer in the Isle of Wight Grand National

“I’ve wanted to do it [bareback] for a long time but I needed a good enough reason to take the risk of humiliation,” said Hadden, speaking to Horse & Hound. “I grew up riding bareback – mainly out of laziness, because I did a lot of showjumping but the tack would stay in the lorry between shows. But my dad [Grand National-winning jockey Jimmy Frost] was keen for us to ride bareback because it’s good for your riding.”

Clearly the work has paid off – Hadden and Templer, formerly trained by Jimmy, finished second in the race (over 19 fences!) behind top point-to-pointer Offshore Account.

There was no investment required for Hadden’s distinctive look either, as it’s standard attire for team chasers Quit The Bit, of which Hadden is a member – although they usually treat themselves to a saddle.

Smith made of stern stuff for marathon bid

If you knew it would take 14 hours to complete the London Marathon, would you do it? For most of us, the answer would be absolutely not, but Steven Smith isn’t so easily deterred.

Steven, owner of Hunscote Stud, was told he would never walk again after he leapt from a first floor window to escape armed burglars at his home and broke his spine. However, following a miraculous recovery, he has regained the ability to walk using a stick. Mobility still doesn’t come easy to the 57-year-old, but he will tackle the gruelling 26.2-mile course in a bid to help raise £250,000 for the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation.

Steven Smith at his home, Hunscote Stud

“After my injury in 2011 my legs often feel extremely heavy – they feel like they are made of lead,” says Steven. “I won’t be training too much, as I don’t want to aggravate the injury. I think I’ve only got one marathon in me and I don’t want to run out of steam too early!”

To sponsor Steven’s marathon bid, which takes place on Sunday, April 23, click here.


Not a day goes by when President Trump fails to hit the headlines, but his South African namesake, an unraced two-year-old trained by Justin Snaith, lost the distinctive moniker after the country’s racing authority demanded it be changed. The replacement? Fake News. For real.

President Trump: likely to be called Fake News in the future

News flash

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For four days her life hung in the balance
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