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Maori Venture dies; Grand National winner fulfilled a lifelong ambition for owner.

Maori Venture, who realised a lifelong ambition for his owner Jim Joel when winning the 1987 Grand National, has died at the age of 24, writes Graham Green.

Retired by Joel immediately after the Aintree triumph and given to his big-race jockey Steve Knight, who has looked after him ever since, Maori Venture had to be put down on Wednesday evening after developing serious leg problems.

Maori Venture gained his Aintree win from The Tsarevich and Lean Ar Aghaidh at odds of 28-1.

He also won the Mandarin Chase twice, in 1985 and 1987, with the 1988 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Charter Party among his victims in the Newbury feature on the second occasion, while he was third to Broadheath in the 1986 Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup.

Andy Turnell, Maori Venture's trainer, yesterday

described him as "a very willing horse who tried so hard.

"His form was very good. I ran him in two Hennessys and fancied him in both, but his jumping let him down when the pressure was on up the straight.

"I think in the National, although it is pretty formidable, he just had a bit more time at his obstacles and the gun did not have to be held to his head until after jumping the last."

Knight, now a long-serving head lad to Richard Hannon, turned out Maori Venture in a huge field at the bottom of his garden in Collingbourne Kingston, Wiltshire.

Maori Venture had cows for company much of the time, but a box was available when he wanted to come inside.

For a time, he was ridden out drag-hunting by Knight or another ex-jockey, Paul Elliott, but he proved too headstrong and the activity was abandoned after just four outings.

Knight said: "He was always galloping up and down the field flat out and a few weeks ago he broke down very badly while doing it.

"He had never had leg trouble in his life and, when we got the vet out to treat him, it obviously meant he had to be kept in his box all the time, which he hated.

"He got so miserable being restricted to his box that the vet advised that putting him down was the kindest thing to do."

Knight added: "My kids used to sit on his back at times, but although in recent years they could go out and catch him, I couldn't.

"Winning the National was the highlight of my riding

career by a long way and it was a great honour to have been given the horse. I am glad he was able to enjoy such a happy life in retirement."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Greene, Graham (English writer)
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Feb 18, 2000
Words:439
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