Racehorse of the Month
A Soldier’s Tale
No horse has ever deserved to win a Group 1 contest than recent Golden Jubilee Stakes winner, Soldier’s Tale. He has, to say the least, had his fair share of problems during his limited career, a story in which his trainer Jeremy Noseda briefly summed up after the race.
“This horse has been so brave. After surgery to a fractured leg, I had a call from my vet at 3am one morning because he thought it was the end of the road and we'd have to put him down. We were all ready to do that, but gave him another 45 minutes. He survived. Apart from that he has had pelvic fractures, and colic surgery, which required a length of his stomach to be removed. He needs a special diet because he finds it difficult to digest food. He then had colic again, and we were up with him all one Christmas Eve. It was a miracle that he lived, let alone that he was able to race again. I love him to bits because he has so much heart, such a will to live. I'd say 99 horses out of 100 would have given up”.
Having been unraced as a 2-year-old, the son of Stravinsky was placed second first time out and went on to win his second start in an ordinary maiden at York.. Soldier’s Tale then won his next two starts which included the Group 3 John Smith’s Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle. His jockey that day, Kevin Darley stated after that race:
“It was a great performance. He travelled like a good horse.”
It was then that perhaps Noseda realised that Soldier’s Tale could be a very good horse indeed and so they sent their charge for the 2005 Group 1 Darley July Cup at Newmarket. He gave the race his all as he always does but eventually finished fourth to Pastoral Pursuits after battling extremely hard. This run did his reputation no harm whatsoever and bigger things looked to be on the cards.
However, racing is never as simple or straight forward as that and especially not in this case. Soldier’s Tale diced with death on more than one occasion over the next two years and his next trip to the track was not until the middle of May this year. That was in the Duke Of York Hearthstead Homes Stakes which is a Group 2 event. Not much was expected of the now six year old but as per usual, Soldier’s Tale ran a gallant race to finish third to Amadeus Wolf beaten only two lengths.
He then had a prep race for the Golden Jubilee in a Listed contest at Haydock where he finished a rather disappointing third. Yet this was on ground a lot firmer than he would have appreciated and he showed what he had been threatening to do so for so long on the final day of the 2007 Royal Ascot meeting
He swept up the stands side under a terrific ride by Johnny Murtagh to clinch his finest victory, in the final Group 1 of the meeting, right on the line from the fabulous and much loved Takeover Target. It was great to see two horses who have both battled back from racing careers which seemed to be set for nothing special, be the ones who finished first and second in probably the toughest sprint race in Europe.
Soldier’s Tale is a horse who is now hailed by the general public, but for the people who themselves battled to save a horse they already loved and adored, this victory was as deserving for them as for the horse himself.