Friday, 11 November 2011


Let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of racehorses. Specifically, the death of Ruffian, maybe the greatest filly ever to race. She was out of Shenanigans by Reviewer which sounds like a Warhorses of Letters joke about a horse who wants to be an actor, and she won the Triple Tiara (then the Filly Triple Crown) in 1975.

Basically, she won everything and she won it by miles. Her final race was in 1975, a one-on-one match race with Foolish Pleasure, winner of that year's Kentucky Derby. In a nutshell, she was going to win when two bones in her right foreleg snapped. She didn't stop, pulverising the bones and ripping the leg to shreds.

She was anaesthatised and surgerised, but when she came to she acted like she was still racing and spun herself round and round on her side. She damaged herself so badly that she had to be put down. As a result, horses like Ruffian are nowawadays put in recovery pools so that when they thrash about on emerging from anaesthesia, they don't reinjure themselves.

Of course, if you want to read something extraordinary about the death of a racehorse, this is famously what you read.

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