Chester mourns death of Hidden Law after serious injury follows victory

<span>The joy was noticeably sucked from the atmosphere at Chester on one of the biggest days of its year on Wednesday.</span><span>Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA</span>
The joy was noticeably sucked from the atmosphere at Chester on one of the biggest days of its year on Wednesday.Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA

An empty winner’s enclosure after the feature race was a miserable way to open Chester’s May Festival, after Charlie Appleby’s Hidden Law, who had just taken the Chester Vase by three lengths, had to be euthanised as the result of a serious injury suffered shortly after crossing the line in an incident that was also broadcast live on ITV4.

Appleby reported that Hidden Law had broken a fetlock after apparently taking a false step while ­William Buick, his rider, was pulling him up. “He fractured his leg, unfortunately,” Appleby said. “Passing the line was all OK but he’s just put in a false step after crossing the road.

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“It’s just the force of it coming down on a false step, really, one of those freak accidents. It is very disappointing, I’m so sorry for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed [Hidden Law’s owner] and team Godolphin, to have a horse like him potentially coming through the ranks was ­exciting for everybody.

“He was on the right lead all the way around, picked up, switched leads, quickened, and just crossed the road there, he didn’t jump it but obviously had a look at it, and then when he’s landed, he’s put the wrong one down with the wrong bit of ­pressure. It’s no fault of the track.”

Buick, the reigning champion jockey on the Flat, was unseated from Hidden Law in the incident, but unhurt. “Will got up fine, which is the most important thing,” Appleby said. “He’s a bit shook up from it because it’s not a nice thing to happen.”

While Hidden Law’s injury was broadcast live by ITV Racing, many fans at the track were unaware of what had happened and gathered around the winner’s enclosure to welcome back a colt who had seemingly just established himself as a major contender for next month’s Derby at Epsom.

As the realisation slowly spread that there would be no presentation, the joy was noticeably sucked from the atmosphere at the track on one of the biggest days of its year.

Hidden Law’s injury occurred shortly after a road crossing that had been covered with a synthetic temporary surface, a process that takes place at other leading tracks with road crossings including Aintree and Epsom, but there was no apparent link between the injury and the location where it occurred.

“It can happen to a horse just running loose in a field,” the leading trainer John Gosden said on ITV ­Racing. “It’s not a very common occurrence but obviously with any athlete, you can have an injury of that nature, it can occur, and it has occurred here just after the finish line. You see it in football games, you see it in all kinds of sport. It is a risk of any sport, there’s a risk to having driven here today for three and a half hours, there are a lot of risks we take in life. This horse is racing and winning well but he’s obviously just changed legs pulling up there, put down incorrectly. The track is in absolutely pristine, perfect condition so it’s nothing to do with the surface of the track.”

Gosden added that racehorses are, by their nature, very difficult to treat when they ­suffer such a serious injury. “They are not very tolerant,” he said. “Someone with a broken leg will lie in bed with their leg extended for a while, horses don’t like that, they don’t like being confined.

“They like to roam free … so they’re not good patients. I’ve seen them in straps, suspended, years ago, that sometimes can work but you need a very docile horse to put up with it and racehorses by nature have a great deal of nervous energy.”

Arrest grabs attention in Ormonde

The Ormonde Stakes at Chester has many illustrious names on a roll of honour that stretches back to Quashed, the 1935 Oaks winner, who took the first running in 1936 a few weeks before an epic battle with Omaha in the Ascot Gold Cup that is remembered as one of the 20th century’s greatest head-to-heads.

Brown Panther, who took the 2014 Irish St Leger later in the season, is the last subsequent Group One winner to win the Ormonde, but this year’s renewal includes several interesting runners with the potential to improve over staying trips this year.

Deauville Legend, fourth when favourite for last year’s Melbourne Cup, and Point Lonsdale, a regular at Group One level, will both attract plenty of support, but Arrest (3.40), the beaten favourite in last year’s Derby and runner-up in the St Leger, has course form in the Chester Vase 12 months ago and should improve significantly for his return to action at Newbury last month.

Chester 1.30 Copper Knight finished last season out of form and did not offer much encouragement on his return to action at Beverley last month either, but has plunged in the weights as a result and is now 6lb below his last winning mark. At odds of around 14-1 from a useful draw in stall four, he could well be worth a speculative interest to rediscover his best form, at a track where he has already registered three wins.

Chester 2.05 Little form to work with in this two-year-olds’ maiden, but Rashabar and Passing Phase, who makes the trip from Jessica Harrington’s stable in Ireland, both showed something on their racecourse debuts. Marginal preference is for the Irish raider, with Tom Marquand – who rode Rashabar at Newbury last month – taking over in the saddle.


1.30 Copper Knight (nap)

2.05 Passing Phase

2.35 Never So Brave

3.05 Harper’s Ferry

3.40 Arrest (nb)

4.10 Tony Montana

4.45 Arch Legend



1.50 Fautinette

2.25 Chatty Chich

2.55 Imperious Star

3.25 One Fine Man

4.00 Chantilly Rose

4.30 Octo Gane

5.03 Handfulofpromises



2.18 Batchelor Boy

2.48 Havana Force

3.18 Elforleather

3.53 Basilette

4.23 Adace

4.55 Wedgewood



4.40 Lud’Or

5.20 Annie Express

5.50 Dixie Cowboy

6.20 R Bernard

6.50 Village Master

7.20 Tour Ovalie

7.50 Silverbridge

8.20 Telefenney



6.30 Q Twenty Boy

7.00 Highland Lil

7.30 Easy Equation

8.00 Tabletalk

8.30 Marefuori

9.00 Conquest Of Power

Chester 2.35 Having finished not far behind a subsequent Group One winner on both his starts as a juvenile, Never So Brave made short work of his field in a maiden at Thirsk last month and has been handed what looks to be a very lenient mark of 94 for his handicap debut here.

Chester 3.05 God’s Window, a 25-1 shot for the Derby, has obvious potential but Harper’s Ferry is in the Classic too, has done little wrong in his career to date and looks significantly over-priced at around 16-1.