Part-owner Lee Westwood has spoken of his delight at seeing Yorkhill return to winning ways in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle.
A multiple Grade One winner with Willie Mullins, Yorkhill had badly lost his way in the last two seasons – having previously looked destined for greatness when he won at the Cheltenham Festival in successive seasons.
Golfing star Westwood took over ownership with friend David Armstrong, from their mutual acquaintance Sir Graham Wylie, and sent him to be trained in the Scottish Borders by Sandy Thomson.
“He’d kind of lost his way, like a few of Graham’s horses, and Graham lost the bug of horse racing,” Westwood told Racing TV’s Luck On Sunday.
“He had a few left, so myself and Dave said ‘why don’t we take a few on and send them to the north?’.
“Dave and Donna Armstrong, and the girls that do most of the work at their yard, are the ones I’m most pleased for – and it was an incredible training performance from Sandy and a great ride from Ryan (Mania).
“But the job in getting him back in love with racing that has been done at Dave and Donna’s, it was incredible to watch it all come together.
“I think he just needed the personal touch – they’ve given him a bit of time to nurture him back to where he was.
“I was at Cheltenham the day he beat Yanworth, and I got a real feel he was back to that sort of form. His ears were pricked, he loved his jumping, and when they came at him he went away again – he was even racing the loose horse at the end.
“I was in tears. I don’t often get emotional – but Yorkhill brought a tear to my eye and I lost my voice. It’s only just come back.”
Westwood’s record and play buttons may need some recovery time too.
“I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve watched the replay,” he added.
“I’m a bit of a technophobe but I managed to record it and keep watching it back.
“I’ll never get tired of it. It was a great jumping performance – he cruised around, (and) Ryan said he was a passenger.
“People love a comeback story, and this was certainly one. Everybody had written him off – he didn’t look himself when he turned up at Dave’s yard, and he got some criticism for that, but he did what he felt was right for the horse, and it was great to see it come to fruition.
“I never get involved with where the horses run. I’m just a golfer, I’m good at getting a little while ball into a little white hole – but he’s fine this morning, which is the main thing.”