The story of Otis Morgan pulling off a fairy-tale success in the race staged to remember and celebrate his late sister Artemis will live long in the memory, and is such a terrific illustration of the kind of poignant result that British sport as a whole, but all aspects of horseracing in particular, regularly achieve.
In 40 years of reporting I long ago lost count of the amount of times that horses seem to have an instinct for what’s required, and consequently put their best foot forward to help to light up an otherwise dark and difficult situation, and this example would rate right up there amongst the most striking.
Ahead of the Conditions race at Flete Park, named in honour of Artemis, a young rider with ambitions aplenty – so completely appropriate that those conditions revolved around novice riders from the Devon and Cornwall point-to-pointing area in which she had thrived – Otis spoke to me on the Live Feed of about having a number of mounts during the course of the Totnes and Bridgetown Races Company fixture, but, obviously, one stood out.
And with commendable poise on what must have been an afternoon of high emotion, he concluded by saying that he was “hoping to have some of my sister’s courage on my side…and hopefully I might come out with a place”.
Despite reversals in earlier races, to the delight of the Morgan family and to the large number of their friends amongst the limited crowd permitted, Otis and Skylander actually strolled home into first place with a 30-length advantage over their closest pursuers after being left clear by a faller at the third last; I’m sure I was not the only one who felt I was riding, nervously and a tiny bit tearfully, over the final two fences along with the jockey and his horse.
Well wishers gathered around the transmission area as Otis gave his debrief, and spontaneous applause rang out as he finished, continuing in the winners’ circle, as the Morgans received well-earned trophies.
A genuine dream result: that the success was the rider’s first point-to-pointing just added to the occasion – with Artemis’ courage – and more – clearly behind him the first of quite a few I suspect.
Cover Photo Credit: Athwenna Irons/WMN