Nick Mitchell paid a heartfelt tribute to top-class staying chaser The Listener, who has died at the age of 22.
The bold-jumping grey won four Grade One races, all in Ireland – the Lexus Chase in 2006, the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase (2007), the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup (2008) and the JNwine.com Champion Chase (2009).
Mitchell was involved with The Listener throughout the horse’s career, first as assistant to the late Robert Alner and then a trainer in his own right when Robert and his wife Sally retired.
It was The Listener who gave him his biggest success, in the Champion Chase at Down Royal in November 2009.
“He took me to places I never thought I’d go. I had a fantastic time with him. He was a once in a lifetime horse,” said Mitchell.
“He gave me my first Grade One and he gave Daryl (Jacob, jockey) his first Grade One. There were great times with Robert and Sally (Alner) and when he went over to Ireland.
“He was a fantastic horse and just a really nice fella. He did have the fully deserved retirement and he went out peacefully in the field. There were no issues with him.”
The Listener won nine of his 30 starts and £401,000 in prize-money. He retired in 2011.