Croco Bay, right
© Photo Healy RacingBen Case paid tribute to his Cheltenham Festival winner Croco Bay after he sadly suffered a fatal injury at Southwell on Monday.
The 13-year-old was running in the Support The ARC Racing Club Handicap Chase when he unseated his rider Bryan Carver and injured himself in the process.
A regular at the major spring festivals for many seasons, his finest hour came in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham in 2019, when causing a 66-1 upset in the hands of Kielan Woods.
“He didn’t deserve that, the old boy. He’d been in the form of his life, he showed that on his last run,” said Case.
“He loved racing, he gave his all every time and we’ve had a huge amount of fun. It’s gutting really, but that’s racing — it doesn’t make it any easier though, it’s tough.
“He took us to a lot of places and gave us a lot of happy memories — he took us to places we never dreamt of going so we’ll remember that.
“Every year he was unconsidered in the Grand Annual, which happens when they are trained by a small yard, but he ran several good races in it.
“The day he won at Cheltenham we knew he was ready to run. You dream they can win at Cheltenham and he always ran his heart out.
“To do what he’s done for us was great, so it’s tough to take.”
He went on: “We’d planned to retire him at the end of last season, but the horse was so well and happy, he was always upbeat and you can’t just stop with them when they are like that.
“He was still acting like an eight-year-old, he was such a happy horse but these things happen, unfortunately.”
The Southwell race was won by Solar Impulse, who won the Grand Annual in 2016 when Croco Bay was a faller.
Later on the card, the novice hurdle over three miles was abandoned on veterinary advice, with officials taking the view that soaring temperatures at the Nottinghamshire circuit during the afternoon meant it was not safe to run that race.
However, the final two contests over two and a half miles did go ahead.