Chariot Charger forced into retirement

Chariot Charger, right, leads eventual winner The Nightingale at Fontwell on January 25, 2010. Picture: Rob Atkins
Chariot Charger, right, leads eventual winner The Nightingale at Fontwell on January 25, 2010. Picture: Rob Atkins
The start of racing on Washout Wednesday / Picture by Malcolm Wells

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Emma Lavelle has warned Fox Appeal fans to strap themselves in for a rollercoaster ride at the Cheltenham Festival.

But the Hampshire trainer has been forced to call time on the career of fellow Fontwell winner Chariot Charger.

Both horses are owned by the Fox Inn Syndicate – a group made up of punters from the Andover yard’s local pub.

The syndicate were riding the crest of a wave following Chariot Charger’s triumph in the toteexacta Novices’ Chase in West Sussex on Sunday.

Buoyed by his three-length win over Sir Du Bearn, Lavelle & Co were turning their attentions to Fox Appeal’s Prestbury Park challenge later this month.

But it emerged on Monday that Chariot Charger had picked up an injury as he justified 2/1-favouritism at the unique figure-of-eight track.

And the tough decision was taken to retire the eight-year-old son of Oscar.

Ken Brown, a member of the Fox Inn Syndicate, said: ‘After Chariot’s great win, he was diagnosed with a ruptured tendon and sadly his racing career is over.

‘We have had some great days with him and, hopefully, after box rest he will be able to enjoy his retirement.’

After showing promise in Irish points, Chariot Charger was bought for 42,000 euros.

Sixth on debut – in a hot Sandown bumper that included talents such as Bensalem and Pepe Simo – he won his first two starts over hurdles. The gelding went on to finish 12th in the 2009 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, won by Weapon’s Amnesty, before switching to fences.

Second best to Bensalem and The Nightingale – at Fontwell – in his early skirmishes in that sphere, he finally got off the mark at Uttoxeter in November.

And Sunday’s win at Fontwell was set to propel the 138-rated chaser to a career-high mark. Sadly, though, he will not race again.

The Fox Inn Syndicate are now hoping their other charge can deliver some much-needed cheer in a fortnight’s time.

Fox Appeal has won three of his six starts, including on hurdles debut at Fontwell.

Following in the footsteps of his stable-mate, the five-year-old son of Brian Boru heads for the Albert Bartlett at the Festival, where he is a 25/1-shot for glory.

The bay talent’s laid-back approach to jumping has given followers a few scares in his short career to date.

And Lavelle is expecting more heart-in-mouth moments on March 16.

‘It will be scary for all concerned,’ said the trainer.

‘I don’t think he really cares what the ground is going to be like – he doesn’t care about anything.

‘He is just the most extraordinary horse but is an absolute rollercoaster to watch.

‘Hopefully, he will give the syndicate a great day out. They have been such great support and so loyal to us.’