Once upon a time there was a horse whose job was to run as fast as he could. There was just one problem. Mad Moose didn’t always fancy running. It wasn’t a matter of ability – it’s just that most of the time, he didn’t really feel like it. When he was on form, he could do fantastically well; he won at Cheltenham in 2012 after being 40 lengths behind at one point, but after that win he seemed to have had enough of it all. At his next Cheltenham appearance he refused to race, which he did again at York in May this year:
In December at Sandown Park, he started the race; but by the time he got to the first jump, decided to pull himself up. What is there to say – he just wasn’t having a good day.
As Nick Bradley, speaking on behalf of the syndicate who own him, Middleham Park Racing, once said:
‘He just realizes that if he doesn’t run he gets to go home in the horse box and go out in the field, and if he does run he gets to go home in the horse box and go out in a field… He’s just pushing the boundaries a bit, like a naughty school kid.’
His trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies did everything he could to encourage Moose on his way – he even had to pay a £140 fine to the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) for waving a belt at poor old Moose in a bid to get him to run. But Moose was having none of it, and only finished 6th out of 7.
Eventually the BHA had had enough of the horse variously described as ‘quirky’, ‘mercurial’, ‘headstrong’ and ‘reluctant’. Perhaps they’d simply run out of adjectives, but last week he was banned from racing, after refusing to race or pulling himself up in 4 of his last 8 races.
So, it turns out that racing wasn’t the sport for Mad Moose after all. At least the fact that he amassed a loyal fanclub (with over 3,500 Twitter followers) means that he might not be headed to the lasagne factory just yet. He was placed in 19 of his 41 races after all, so there’s hope for him yet.