Tag Archive for: Eclair Surf

Lavelle yard hit by loss of Eclair Surf following injuries suffered in National fall

Emma Lavelle was left heartbroken after Eclair Surf died on Sunday morning as a result of injuries suffered in his fall in Saturday’s Randox Grand National.

The eight-year-old was among the leading contenders for the Aintree showpiece, having won the Classic Chase at Warwick before chasing home last week’s Scottish National heroine Win My Wings in the Eider at Newcastle.

Eclair Surf looked likely to miss out on a place in the Grand National field earlier in the week, but unexpected defections meant he came off the reserve list.

Cruelly, however, he had a heavy fall at the third fence and while he was stabilised on course and walked onto transport back to the racecourse stables, he was later referred to Leahurst Equine Hospital and his deteriorating condition overnight led to him being euthanised on welfare grounds.

“We were optimistic when he left the track, but during the night he just got more and more wobbly and as he got more distressed it wasn’t the right thing to do to keep going,” said Lavelle.

“He was in the right place for those decisions to be made and the team both at the races and at the hospital were great.

“You kind of sit there and think of the ifs and buts and why nots, but you can’t sit and think that.

“It’s a real gutter for everybody – his owners and the team. He was an exciting horse for the future, but what can you say?”

Chris Proudman, veterinary advisor to Aintree Racecourse, said: “We were sad to learn that Eclair Surf had to be put to sleep this morning.

“After his fall yesterday he was stabilised on course before walking onto transport back to the stables. Following further veterinary evaluation he was referred to Leahurst Equine Hospital last night.

“Everything possible will have been done for him and our thoughts are very much with those who loved and cared for him.”

Discorama was also fatally injured
Discorama was also fatally injured (David Davies/Jockey Club)

Eclair Surf was one of two fatalities in the National along with the Paul Nolan-trained Discorama, who was pulled up by Bryan Cooper having sustained a pelvic injury.

Nolan said: “I’m devastated. But that is racing and you have to accept those things.

“He was a great servant and he gave us some great days, but all we can do is reflect on the couple of happy days and what he has done for us.

“It is just devastating for the owners and the yard, and it it is just one of those awful things, but it is part of racing and that is what it is.

“Unfortunately I could not attend. My father is sick at home and we had to come back from Aintree, so we are with him now.

“He’s not good. It puts everything into perspective. We did not tell him the horse was fatally injured, (just) that he pulled muscles and was home – there are certain things you have to say to soften the blow.”

Elle Est Belle (second left) at Newbury
Elle Est Belle (second left) at Newbury (Steven Paston/PA)

There were three deaths in total on Grand National day, with Elle Est Belle collapsing on the run-in of the Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle.

James Given, director of equine health and Welfare at the British Horseracing Authority, said: “We are all extremely saddened by the fatal injuries at the Grand National festival, though no one will be more upset than the trainers, owners and stable staff who will have given these horses unparalleled care throughout their lives.

“Following a detailed review in 2011/12 the BHA and Aintree racecourse worked together to introduce a number of significant measures which have helped in the intervening years to reduce the injury rate at the Grand National meeting. They included altering the cores of the Grand National fences to a more forgiving, rubber design; levelling off the landing site of fences in order to ensure horses take off and land at the same level; significant investment in the racing surface and the introduction of state-of-the-art ‘misting’ fans to keep horses cool after they race, among others.

“However, welfare and safety is an ever-evolving commitment and the BHA works constantly alongside our racecourses to further improve the sport’s safety record and reduce avoidable risk. Every incident this week will be reviewed, and this information will then build on the significant evidence and evaluation that took place as part of the 2011/12 review, and in subsequent years. Should any further trends be identified that might be linked to increased risk then we are able to act on them.”

Lavelle riding the crest of a wave with Eclair Surf and De Rasher Counter

It has not been a comfortable week for Emma Lavelle, who had an anxious wait to see if Eclair Surf would sneak into the Randox Grand National field.

The eight-year-old hacked up in the Classic Chase at Warwick in January before chasing home the ultra-impressive Scottish National winner Win My Wings in the Eider Chase, beaten just under two lengths to see his rating soar to 147 – a mark off which he would have easily made the cut.

However, Eclair Surf races off 143 in Saturday’s Aintree feature as the weights were framed before the Eider and he started the week needing a handful of horses to withdraw and allow him to join stablemate De Rasher Counter.

Eclair Surf sidestepped Cheltenham in favour of the Grand National
Eclair Surf sidestepped Cheltenham in favour of the Grand National (Tim Goode/PA)

With the defections of Farclas and Caribean Boy on Thursday morning, the Wiltshire handler now has two runners in the race as she bids to become only the fifth woman to train the National winner after Jenny Pitman, Venetia Williams, Sue Smith and Lucinda Russell.

Lavelle said: “It is great that we got Eclair Surf in and that it has worked out, but it has definitely not been the most relaxing week.

“The thing is, if someone decides not to run because they want to run somewhere else, that is one thing. When someone is forced not to run because something has gone wrong, ie Nicky (Henderson) with Caribean Boy, then it is never nice. You don’t jump up and down, because you know how depressing it can be when it happens to you.

“The fact that Farclas wasn’t declared meant that we got in under that basis, so it is great. It is great for the owners, for the team here it is very exciting to think we have two runners in a Grand National, but not just two runners – they are two who have genuine chances and genuine reasons for having chances. It is exciting.”

Win My Wings boosted Eclair Surf's form last Saturday
Win My Wings boosted Eclair Surf’s form last Saturday (Jeff Holmes/PA)

Win My Wings was hiked to a rating of 154 following her Ayr victory and Lavelle was thrilled to see Christian Williams’ mare enhance the Newcastle form, with the trainer feeling her charge is equipped to handle whatever conditions Merseyside has to offer.

“Eclair Surf clearly has a lot of ability and the way that Win My Wings backed that Eider Chase form up by winning the Scottish National, it was really good to see,” said Lavelle.

“The thing with Eclair Surf is that he can handle any ground. But I think his ability to handle very soft ground puts other horses at a disadvantage.

“But in a way, it was reassuring that he ran as well as he did in the Eider (on good to soft) to see that he can handle it and I think Aintree ground will be, no matter what, slower than that.

“We are really happy with him. He has schooled over our version of the National fences at home and you just need luck. He is clearly a horse who has a big engine and a great attitude

“He has a rating of 147 which would have easily got him into the race, so arguably he is sneaking into the race while still well handicapped on a mark of 143. He is 4lb well in.”

De Rasher Counter is a lively second string for Lavelle
De Rasher Counter is a lively second string for Lavelle (Clint Hughes/PA)

Eclair Surf may be the better-fancied of Lavelle’s pair according to bookmakers, but De Rasher Counter has been laid out for the race, having had just two runs since March 2020.

“The Grand National was always the target race for De Rasher Counter from the start of last year,” said Lavelle.

“His whole campaign has been built around this race.”

The 10-year-old, who won the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase in November 2019, was sidelined for 489 days with a tendon injury, before he returned to action at Newbury, finishing fourth in the Denman Chase in February.

“He ran a lovely race in the Denman – we left plenty to work with – but he jumped in his exuberant manner and travelled really well and came out of it really well. He just got a little bit tired, which was understandable,” added Lavelle.

“He has been away since then. He’s done plenty, he looks great and he won a Ladbroke off 149 and he is back to that mark, and I’d have to be really, really happy with how he is.

“Adam Wedge takes the ride as Tom (Bellamy) will ride Eclair Surf. Adam knows him well as he and his partner, Lauren, had him at their place in to do his rehab, trotting on the roads in Wales, so they know him really well.”

She added: “I wouldn’t swap my two for anything else in the race. They both have very live and interesting chances, but they are both going to need luck, as will everything else.”

All change in Grand National field following morning withdrawals

Eclair Surf and Fortescue are both guaranteed a run in the Randox Grand National after Caribean Boy and Farclas were taken out of the Aintree showpiece at Thursday’s final declaration stage.

Emma Lavelle’s Eclair Surf brings strong form to the table, having won the Classic Chase at Warwick before chasing home last week’s easy Scottish National heroine Win My Wings in the Eider at Newcastle.

It looked like the eight-year-old would have to make do with a place on the reserve list, but he has made the cut as number 39 following two unexpected defections.

Caribean Boy was out to provide Nicky Henderson with an elusive first National success, but was not declared after suffering a setback.

Part-owner Simon Munir posted on Twitter: “Unfortunately, sorry to report that Caribean Boy has pulled a hamstring and will be a non-runner in Saturday’s Grand National.”

Farclas will not run in the Grand National
Farclas will not run in the Grand National (Steven Paston/PA)

Farclas was due to be part of Gordon Elliott’s strong squad, but was also not declared, meaning Fortescue creeps in at the bottom of the field for Henry Daly.

The eight-year-old Farclas, who finished fifth last year, is waiting for Fairyhouse.

Eddie O’Leary, racing manager for Gigginstown House Stud, said: “He’s very well, he’s in really good form but we’re just wanting to go for the Irish National with him.

“The Irish National is a race very close to our hearts so that’s where he’ll go instead of Aintree. He’s perfectly well within himself, we’re just going to save him for Fairyhouse.”

After gambling on getting a run by missing last week’s Scottish National, a delighted Daly said: “I think in modern-day terminology in text or whatever, I think it goes TFFT – but I’m not totally sure what that means!

“I think it means Thank Goodness For That, or some such. According to the handicapper he is 4lb well in, but we will see how right he is.

“He has been in good form all season. His run at Ascot was great. He jumps, gallops and stays, and I don’t quite know what else you want for Aintree because I’ve never won it, but we will find out on Saturday, won’t we?”

There are four horses below him on the reserve list – Commodore (Venetia Williams), School Boy Hours (Noel Meade), Romain De Senam (David Pipe) and Roi Mage (Patrick Griffin).

The field is headed by last year’s historic winner Minella Times who is once again the mount of Rachael Blackmore.

Leading contenders for the world’s most famous steeplechase include Elliott’s pair of Delta Work and Escaria Ten, Any Second Now – third last year for Ted Walsh – and Charlie Longsdon’s grey mare Snow Leopardess, winner of the Becher Chase over the National fences earlier in the season.

Eclair Surf to be saved for National options

Eclair Surf will sidestep Cheltenham in favour of Grand National options after his second-placed run in the Eider Chase at Newcastle.

Contesting the marathon four-mile-one-and-half-furlong handicap under top-weight, the Emma Lavelle-trained gelding was beaten a length and a quarter at 15-2 by Christian Williams’ Win My Wings.

Having made most of the running Eclair Surf was five lengths behind the winner over the last fence but rallied under Tom Bellamy to gain ground approaching the line and cut down the losing margin.

“He ran absolute stormer, it was just a shame I suppose as he’d have run the same race had the ground been soft and it might have inconvenienced the others more,” Lavelle said of the run.

“He gave away plenty of weight and galloped all the way to the line, we were delighted with him.

“Considering what a test of stamina these races are, once he gets into his zone he just keeps galloping.

“I think he was gaining on the winner going to the line, stamina clearly is his strong suit and I think the ability to handle soft ground as well, those things are key to him.”

Prior to the Eider run Eclair Surf was a Grade Three winner at Warwick when landing the Classic Chase by a wide-margin 13 lengths from David Pipe’s Gericault Roque.

In both races the bay displayed an improved style of jumping having previously been prone to throw in the occasional errant leap.

“He made one big error at Warwick and got away with it, in the Eider he was the one that got better and better as the race warmed up,” said Lavelle.

“He’s definitely learning what to do with his feet when he’s a bit gassy at the beginning, he’s getting much more secure with his jumping which is definitely good news.”

The eight-year-old holds an entry for the Ultima Chase at the Cheltenham Festival but will not go, nor will he take up an engagement in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter on the following Saturday.

The Scottish Grand National and the Grand National itself are both preferred options, but the ground will be a factor and he will need some luck to make the cut for the Aintree spectacular.

“Quite a few are going to have to come out for him to get a run in the National, that could dictate whatever happens this year,” Lavelle said.

“We definitely won’t go to Cheltenham, I think the same will be said of the Midlands National, that will come too soon as well.

“We’ll make an entry for the Scottish National and we will keep confirming his entry in the Grand National, I think our realistic options are to have a look at those two.

“He might even get an entry in the Bet365 Gold Cup just in case the ground was quick at Ayr and he didn’t get into the National and it then rained later in spring.

“He’s certainly come out of the race really well in himself and all options will be open apart from Cheltenham and the Midlands National, which will both come too quick.”

De Rasher Counter to begin road to Aintree at Newbury

De Rasher Counter is all set to make his comeback from injury in the Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury on Saturday.

The Emma Lavelle-trained 10-year-old has been sidelined for 489 days with a tendon injury but is ready for a return to action at the scene of his Ladbrokes Trophy success in November 2019.

This will be a big step for De Rasher Counter in his preparation for the Randox Grand National at Aintree in April.

“He’s in really good order. It’s exciting to have him back after injury. He’s in really good shape. We’re trying to gear up for a proper crack at the National,” said Lavelle.

“It’s our first run back and he seems very much ready to go and run.”

The Marlborough handler revealed she has had some help in getting De Rasher Counter ready for action.

“We brought him back in and I wanted to do a lot of trotting with him so I sent him to Adam Wedge’s partner Lauren and she and Adam had him for six weeks trotting on the roads in Wales. They did a great job for us and just hardened his legs off and got him going,” she said.

“He came back to us and he started cantering and touch wood it’s been plain sailing since then. They did a super job for us.”

Eclair Surf has been given an entry in the Eider Chase at Newcastle
Eclair Surf has been given an entry in the Eider Chase at Newcastle (Simon Marper/PA)

Lavelle’s other Grand National entry, Eclair Surf, could run next in the Vertem Eider Chase at Newcastle on February 26.

The eight-year-old put himself in the picture for all the main staying handicaps when winning the Classic Chase at Warwick last month.

“He’s very good. We’ve made an entry for the Eider. Timing-wise it’s perfect and we’ll see how we go,” she said.

“He’s in the National as well. We’ll just keep all our options open as far as he is concerned at this stage.”

Eclair Surf on the crest of a wave in Classic Chase

Eclair Surf put in an admirable staying performance to run his rivals into the ground in the Agetur UK Ltd Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick.

The eight-year-old was given a bold, front-running ride by Tom Bellamy, as trainer Emma Lavelle claimed a second success in this stamina test over three miles and five furlongs after Shotgun Paddy in 2014.

Eclair Surf (11-1) jumped well, making only one mistake at the 22 fences, and never looked like stopping.

Chirico Vallis kept him company, but Eclair Surf pulled away before the home turn to score by 13 lengths.

Gericault Roque, the 7-2 favourite, could not got close enough to challenge and was nearly caught for second place by a rallying Chirico Vallis (33-1). Corach Rambler, the top-weight, went past beaten horses to claim fourth spot.

Lavelle said: “He was meant to go to Cheltenham on New Year’s Day and I was absolutely gutted when he came in from the field lame and couldn’t go.

“Luckily we didn’t have to wait too long for this race. We know he can gallop, but jumping has always been an issue.

“In truth he’s a good jumper but is always capable of belting one. It keeps Tom on his toes, that’s for sure.

“With that in mind I don’t think he’s a National horse, certainly not this year, but he might be one for the Scottish National. He needs a bit of cut and that race is earlier this year.

“We won this with Shotgun Paddy and that was our first really big handicap win and Barry (Fenton, partner) got quite emotional. He’s done a lot of work with this lad, too, so it will mean a lot.

“He’s a tricky horse so it’s a big ‘thank you’ to Barry really. His ability has never been in doubt, he just has his thing of throwing in a shocker. I knew Tom wanted to be handy today and that was a good idea.”

It is the first feature race Lavelle and Bellamy have won since teaming up, and the trainer was full of praise for her jockey.

“Tom is a massive team player which is great for us and when he’s riding, yes he’s thinking about the day, but he’s also thinking about the next day and the next day,” said Lavelle.

“It’s working really well and going the right way.”

For Bellamy it was a noteworthy success.

Eclair Surf put in some great leaps on the way round
Eclair Surf put in some great leaps on the way round (Simon Marper/PA)

“This means a lot, it’s certainly the biggest win we’ve had together, a £100,000 handicap,” he said.

“I wanted to be positive and see where we ended up. At one point he nearly ran away with me, which wasn’t ideal over this trip, but he does stay well.

“I’m sure he just likes to throw a dodgy leap in to keep me on my toes, but apart from one today he jumped great. It was a pleasure.”