It was a classic case of deja vu when Stan Elley interviewed the part owner of the first race at Kenilworth July 30th – ex jock Martin Uys.
Stan reminded viewers that Martin some many years ago had ridden a winner of the Gold Cup – Fauvist. Fauvist never won another race and became a huge disappointment so he was sold to the Mickleburgh family by Clodagh Shaw.
He was a handsome beast and since it must have been Pippa’s turn to get the next horse (all five kids rode at least two horse each) she was given Fauvist to bring on as a showjumper. He developed beautifully and offered great promise but after competing successfully in his first few shows, he went flat. There was patently something amiss and we called in the vets from the Baker practice, perhaps the kindest and most generous practioners I have ever known. But despite their renowned skills, they could detect nothing wrong. Fauvist then recovered naturally, went well again, and then once more threw in the towel.
This cycle repeated itself three or four times but neither John Fleming or Brian Baker despite conducting a variety of tests, could put their fingers on the problem. In the end and in exasperation they told us that the minute Pippa detected anything wrong when she was riding Fauvist , we were to call them from wherever they were. Elder son Sean was at the time helping out at the practice during school holidays. He used to return home at ungodly times and never failed to be amazed at the extended hours the vets put in around the province. Yet, here we were being told that whenever Pippa detected the symptoms when riding Fauvist (his colour and temperature were always normal) they would drop everything and rush to our stables …..It seemed a bit too much to expect afterall they never failed to send a vet and now we were expecting something more -immediate action!
It so happened that after the very first emergency call out John Fleming responded as promised, took the blood sample and tested it immediately at their labs, with the usual negative results. It was late and he was tired, so he did not bother to clear up after the tests that had been done and left the sample on the lab desk top.
The next morning one of the partners entered the lab and noticing the sample on the bench casually examined it through the microscope. He did not know whose sample he was staring at. So he called out to the partners who were operating on a racehorse at the time “Whose is this billiary case on the plate” or words to that effect.
“What billiary blood?’ was the question. And so it emerged; the blood belonged to Fauvist and it now showed indications of billiary. Brian Baker phoned us, Fauvist it appeared, had an unusual form of sub -clinical billiary which was apparently very difficult to detect (in those days at least). So thanks to their extraordinary and caring diligence, the problem had been discovered.
So we could now treat the problem and had perhaps solved the mystery of Fauvist’s poor track performance …but would we let him race again? Sadly, we don’t know the answer to that question for a little while later a tree fell on Fauvist’s stable, his back took a blow and he had to be sold as a hack to very caring light weight rider.
Just another tale from the millions which surround horses. If only they could talk!
via email – David Mickleburgh