The Dine In Horizons Restaurant Handicap brings down the curtain on the career of The Tatling, who will turn 15 on New Year's Day. He started off in the rather more illustrious surroundings of Newmarket, finishing third in a two-year-old maiden back in the last century. Since then, the gelding has won 17 of his 175 starts, as well as being placed a further 51 times.
He was trained first by Michael Bell, then for a year or so by David Nicholls, and The Tatling won races for both of them. But it was Milton Bradley who found the key to him, after he claimed him for Â£15,000 from a race at Catterick in 2002. "The first time we ran him at Newbury we wondered what we had got because he came there on the outside two out and finished nearly last. But we found that he loved to come through horses from behind."
Bradley had no especially great expectations of for The Tatling, hoping to win a couple of handicaps with him, but such was the response from the horse to Bradley's approach to training that he won the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2004, and was runner-up in the Group 1 Nunthorpe at York for three years in a row between 2003 and 2005.
Bradley refers to that win at Ascot as the highlight. "It was a big field and they didn't give us a lot of chance. Two furlongs out he had three behind him but he won going away. It was no lucky win."
Not surprisingly, Bradley says he'll never find another horse like him, not least because The Tatling clearly enjoys and thrives on racing. "He doesn't want to retire because he loves his work but he's got a little bit steadier and it is unfair to run him after he's been such a good servant to us. I am making the decision for him. He still wants to go on and he loves it every day but he's just lost a bit of his sparkle. He is perfectly healthy and his legs are sound as a pound, he stayed sound all his life."
In human terms, The Tatling is more or less the same age as his 73-year-old trainer. Bradley says, "I'm not sure what the secret is that keeps him going, but I'd like a bit of it myself." Wouldn't we all?