Amongst the many unsung heroes of racing, very little attention is paid by the average racegoer to the vets who attend all race meetings.
They must go to work and hope they will not have any serious work to do and, fortunately at most meetings their work is routine and mundane.
However there are times when they come into their own.
The last two weekends headlines have been dominated by some very high profile equine fatalities.
When a horse takes a heavy fall, amongst the first on the scene is the following vet, ensuring treatment is rapid.
Yesterday there was a shocking fall at Newbury’s last fence, involving Paul Nicholl’s promising ex-pointer Nevada Royale. He had led most of the race and coming to the last he was being challenged by Here’s Johnny.
Unfortunately Nevada Royale took a fall at the last, which in itself didn’t look too bad, unfortunately he fell in front of Here’s Johnny who appeared to land and kick Nevada Royale’s head as he laid on the ground.
From where I was in the stand it did not look good, Nevada Royale was worryingly motionless. The first vet was on the scene even before the dreaded green screens were raised. Although it has to be said nowadays the erecting of the screens does not imply the same as it did years ago when it signified almost certain bad news.
The screens were up for ages. Racegoers stayed where they watched the race, hoping for something positive.
Nevada Royale’s lass was standing by the winning post, clearly too afraid to go to see her charge. How hard it must be for these lads and lasses who look after the horses day in and day out.
Ten minutes later the screens were still up which, in a perverse way I took to be a good sign, obviously there was some hope for the horse and the vets were clearly doing all they could to save the horse.
A few moments later an almighty roar was heard, arguably the loudest roar of the afternoon, as those in the higher vantage points in the stands saw a horses head rising above the screens. Immediately the lass began sprinting from the winning post to where here charge was standing, dazed, but still alive.
As the screens were lowered Nevada Royale began the slow, unsteady, walk back down the track. The lad leading him had the biggest smile I have seen in a long time and his right arm lovingly around the horses neck. Soon hi lass joined him, a blanket was put around him and he continued his walk along the track.
As he slowly made his way back down the course his progress was followed by enthusiastic applause from relieved racegoers.
Even the increasingly loud group, who had been a pain all afternoon, stopped their drinking and applauded. My faith in human nature almost restored.
Shortly afterwards two of the vets walked across the course and across the enclosure, people paying no attention to them.
Had I not been so far away I would have stopped and thanked them for their work. They had earned their money.
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