High-class racemare Cockney Sparrow, who provided Ryedale trainer John Quinn and his conditional jockey Dean Pratt with so many great days, has tragically lost her life to colic.

The memorable winner of last season's Grade 2 Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr, when she provided Pratt with the biggest success of his career, Cockney Sparrow was described by Quinn as "the best mare I've trained.”

The five-year-old, a triple-winner on the Flat, won five of her 11 starts over hurdles and chased home My Tent Or Yours in last season's Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.

"She had speed and a touch of class, which was a great combination,” said Quinn, underlying the qualities that made her stand out from the crowd. “On top of that, she was a very honest, genuine mare.”

Cockney Sparrow, who was preparing to come back into training, began showing signs of colic early last week. Quinn explained; "She went downhill very rapidly. She died even before the vet could get to her. It's a great shame and I feel very sorry for her owners, Paul and Joanne Gaffney, who had some great days with her and would have bred from her in due course. She would have made a lovely brood-mare."

Cockney Sparrow, originally trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam for whom she won twice on the Flat, proved herself a high-class performer over hurdles with a rating of 152. "She was a proper Grade 2 mare,” said Quinn.

She won a Listed race at Wetherby last season in the hands of Dougie Costello and had also won at Aintree on Grand National day 2013 when ridden by Pratt to beat 21 rivals. Pratt had also won on her the previous month and Doncaster and, combined with his high-profile success in the Scottish Champion Hurdle earlier this year, was unbeaten on Cockney Sparrow in three races.

“It was a tremendous performance for a second-season hurdler to win the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr, where she also won for us on the Flat on Ayr Gold Cup day," said Quinn. "She was the best mare I've trained."

Cockney Sparrow is the second high-class hurdler Quinn has lost in 2014. Countrywide Flame, a dual Grade 1 winner, had to be put down in late-summer after succumbing to a bone degenerative disease, which had brought his career brought to a premature end year after he’d won the Triumph Hurdle, the Fighting Fifth Hurdle and had finished third in the Champion Hurdle to Hurricane Fly.

Quinn, at least, had something to cheer him at Doncaster last Saturday when Kashmir Peak, successful in the Grade 2 Summit Hurdle at the corresponding meeting two years earlier, ran out a decisive five lengths winner in the handicap hurdle, ridden by Nick Scholfield.

“It’s hard to believe he hadn’t won a race since the Summit two years ago,” said the Highfield handler, who is likely to alternative between Flat and jumping with Kashmir Peak. “We’ll try and find something for him next month and it may be on the Polytrack as he’s quite well-handicapped on the Flat,” added Quinn.


• Paul Hanagan, whose best-ever year in the saddle, ended in a painful fall at Wolverhampton last month when was left with a broken collar bone, has left for Dubai, where he will spend the winter.

The former Malton-based champion jockey will undergo some physiotherapy on his injury on the run-up to the new year, before starting riding again in readiness for the Dubai Carnival, which begins next month.

“It’s coming on fine now and the better weather in Dubai will help it,” said Hanagan, who departed last week. The jockeys considers himself very fortunate to have escaped so lightly from the Wolverhampton melee, which saw one horse slip heels and fall, bringing down three others on the home turn. “It was a bad one,” said Hanagan. “I was lucky to have got away so lightly.”

Freddy Tylicki, the former Malton-based champion apprentice, who, like Hanagan, is now based in Newmarket, broke his nose and suffered facial injuries in the fall, but Richard Kingscote, stable jockey to the Tom Dascombe yard in Cheshire, took the brunt of it by breaking his arm, elbow and collar bone.

Hanagan has enjoyed a year to remember in 2014. Not only did he ride more than 100 winners, but he gained his first Classic victory in the Investec Oaks aboard Taghrooda, on whom he also won the King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. He gained further Group 1 glory on Mukhadram in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown and accumulated an impressive list of Group 2 and Group 3 triumphs, which included winning the Gimrack Stakes at York in August on Muhaarar.

Next Monday at the Professional Jockeys’ Association annual awards dinner in Birmingham, Hanagan is one of four nominees for the Flat Ride of the Year for his narrow success on the Richard Fahey-trained Spirit Of The Law at York in June.


•  Danny Tudhope, who recently became a father, resumed his race-riding activities last week and wasted no time making an impact.

The jockey, who gained his first Group 1 success earlier this year on G Force in the Haydock Park Sprint Trophy, partnered three winners in two days at Wolverhampton, starting off with the Ed Walker-trained Persona Grata before following-up with a double on John Balding’s 12-1 shot Point North, who scrambled home in a three-way photo-finish, and the David O’Meara-trained Earth Drummer, who clinched the featured Coral Handicap by half-a-length after being sent off at 9-2.

Wolverhampton proved a happy hunting ground for the Ryedale fraternity. George Chaloner, now ploughing a furrow as a fully-fledged jockey after losing his apprentice allowance a couple of months ago, gained a 20-1 success on Mo Henry, trained by Richard Whitaker, one of the rider’s chief supporters, while Peter Niven made it third-time-lucky with Undulate, who won the maiden under Graham Lee at odds of 4-1.

It was much the same story at the Dunstall Park course on Monday when Mick Easterby’s Pivotman, under Harry Bannister, won the first leg of the amateur riders’ handicap, and the Brian Ellison-trained Fujin Dancer, ridden by his biggest fan, Harriet Bethell, won the second.

Jason Hart, meanwhile, found Southwell – and one particular horse – to his liking last week. Last year’s champion apprentice, making a good fist of finding a niche as a senior jockey, gained two successes in a matter of days on Novalist, trained at Wetherby by Robin Bastiman.

Hart, incidentally, is nominated for Apprentice of the Year at next week’s PJA ‘Lesters’. His opponents are Oisin Murphy, Connor Beasley and Cam Hardie, son of Willie Hardie, who is head-lad to Great Habton trainer Tim Easterby.


•  Looking for a last-minute Christmas gift? How about buying a Jack Berry Bear, which are on sale with the injured Jockeys’ Fund – with the entire proceeds going towards the IJF’s rehabilitation and fitness centre currently being built in Old Malton.

The cuddy bears, bearing the words ‘Jack Berry’ – are priced at £20 and going down a storm on racecourses all over the country, and particularly in the north of England, where the Injured Jockeys’ Fund are marketing Christmas cards, diaries, calendars and a whole range of goods.

The bear fittingly wears a tiny red t-shirt to complete the red shirt, which is Jack Berry’s trademark item of clothing, winter and summer.

Berry is up for the ‘Special Recognition’ award at next week’s 'Lesters' awards ceremony in Birmingham for his charitable work on behalf of the Injured Jockeys’ Fund, and Jack Berry House in particular.