TEN EQUINE ECCENTRICS; Steve Dennis recalls ten wayward horses who will forever be remembered for their deviant tendencies.
Modern contemporaries such as Sanctuaire have interestingly wayward tendencies, although he poses no threat to those around him.
In some horses, though, the quirks take on a darker hue and involve acts of such sudden violence and wilfulness that they become cautionary tales passed on with a bloodcurdling relish.
There are many such instances, and everyone will have their favourite. No list can be exhaustive, but here are ten notable members of racing's hall of infamy.
Ubedizzy Here is your permanent point of reference. Here is the recidivist's recidivist, the rogue of rogues, the villain for whom Timeform would have implemented a third squiggle. Here is Ubedizzy, a legend in his lifetime and the first name that comes to mind whenever arbitrary acts of equine violence are discussed.
"I could write a book about that horse," says Andy Crook, trainer of a Scottish National winner and who once drank daily from the poisoned chalice labelled 'Ubedizzy's groom'.
"If I was offered a thousand pounds a week to do him now, I wouldn't do it. The times I used to come out of his box with a leg missing off my trousers, or my shirt torn to bits ..." Ubedizzy didn't stop at the rending of garments. The evidence can be seen on Crook's left hand, in a ring-finger an inch or two shorter than nature designed.
"He bit the end of my finger off," says Crook. "He was always a bit sharp that way. I'd ridden him out one morning and was taking off his tack when he lunged at me and bit my hand.
"You had to jump off him, not slide off, or he'd reach round and grab you. I used to walk him into his box and reach up and grab the guttering above the door, lift myself off that way."
On the racecourse Ubedizzy - trained in Middleham by Steve Nesbitt - was a class act who finished fourth in a Nunthorpe Stakes, although his innate misanthropy was never far from the surface. Crook won several races on him and remembers that matters were often best left to his irascible mount.
"I went to give him a crack one day and he skewed his head round and showed me his teeth," he says. "I thought I'd better put the stick down and just rode him hands and heels, and he got up to win by a short head."
Ubedizzy's final act on a British racecourse, at Newmarket in April 1978, will never be forgotten by those who saw it. After finishing second to Boldboy in the Abernant Stakes, Ubedizzy knocked his lad to the ground in the unsaddling enclosure, knelt on him and began to savage him. This wanton viciousness earned him a ban from British racing and lasting notoriety.
"It was the only time I didn't go racing with him," says Crook. "I think it was a chap named Martin Taylor who got half-eaten - if I'd been there it might not have happened.
"He had an angleberry [warty growth] in his armpit which was obviously quite tender. He had two girths on and his jockey Edward Hide undid one and let it dangle while he undid the other. He should have whipped the whole thing away quickly, but the dangling girth must have knocked Ubedizzy's armpit and annoyed him."
Woe betide anyone who annoyed Ubedizzy. Now persona non grata in Britain, an abortive attempt to race him in Ireland was followed by his sale to Sweden, where he became champion sprinter.
"You'd say he was a real savage," says Crook, whose fund of Ubedizzy stories exceed the space available. Then, almost wistfully, he adds: "He was a bloody good character ..."
See You Then Enormously talented, worryingly fragile, frequently vicious - the three sides of triple Champion Hurdle winner See You Then. On the death of his stable star, Nicky Henderson reminisced: "He was a wonderful horse outside but inside the box he was a brute. He would eat people. I owe a lot to his lad Glyn Foster, who looked after him from the day he arrived. I've still got the jerseys and jackets that tell the tale of going into his box. He either bit you or kicked you."
Marinsky Vincent O'Brien was a genius but he couldn't help Marinsky, a bad-tempered, irresolute rogue who was eventually banned from racing. In the 1977 Diomed Stakes he attempted to savage Relkino three times before failing to go through with his effort when holding a winning chance, while in the St James's Palace he wore blinkers and a muzzle before again throwing in the towel. He actually won the July Cup, but was disqualified for veering violently left in the closing stages. The authorities had had enough by then and 'retired' him.
Muley Edris Fred Archer could be hard on his horses and by all accounts Muley Edris had been on the receiving end of two or three thrashings in his races. One morning at exercise the horse recognised the man who had treated him so badly, grabbed his right arm and lifted him off the floor before dropping him and kneeling on him, gnawing away at his arm all the while. Archer had been bitten through to the bone but a fortnight later, with an iron bar supporting his useless arm, rode Bend Or to win the 1880 Derby in a driving finish.
Vodkatini Once he consented to race Vodkatini was very good - winning the 1988 Grand Annual and finishing third in a King George - but he wouldn't always start. He famously dug his toes in and refused to race when favourite for the 1988 Tingle Creek Chase, did the same at Aintree the following spring and again at Chepstow 18 months after that. His recalcitrance endeared him to many.
St Simon Undefeated and regarded as one of the greatest of horses, jockey Fred Archer compared St Simon - given the limited technology of the era - to a 'bloomin' steam engine'. His notable excitability proved problematic at stud, however. He killed cats, assaulted grooms - one later said: "It's all very well to talk about the patience of Job, but Job never had to groom St Simon" - but his reign of terror came to end when it was discovered he was wary of umbrellas. In the absence of an umbrella, a bowler hat on the end of a stick was found to do just as well.
Maylane Not vicious but wayward, Maylane won the September Stakes but is better remembered for the races he didn't win, the ones in which - to paraphrase Magnus Magnusson - he started but didn't finish. At Newbury in April 1997 he swerved left on leaving the stalls and unseated Michael Roberts, at Ascot five months later he pulled the same stunt in the Cumberland Lodge Stakes. Starting was always his Achilles heel; perennially slowly away, he was twice tried over hurdles but - as befitting his aristocratic breeding - declined to participate when the tape went up.
Remittance Man The brilliant two-miler was a nervous type who benefited hugely from having a sheep named Nobby to keep him company in his box. Even sheep need holidays, though, and when Nobby needed some flock-time trainer Nicky Henderson filled the vacancy with a different sheep.
To humans, one sheep is very much like another sheep. But Remittance Man wanted Nobby; he picked up the new sheep by his teeth and threw him out of the box. He did this again and again with different sheep until Henderson was forced to recall Nobby from the field; soon all was well.
Arcadian Heights Not quite in the Marinsky league for equine cannibalism, Ascot Gold Cup winner Arcadian Heights was nonetheless pretty handy with his teeth and inspired form book comments such as 'beaten when bit winner approaching final furlong'. That little snippet of poetry in the prosaic world of race-reading came when he was fourth behind Luchiroverte at Doncaster in March 1992. He then made a lunge at Drum Taps when runner-up to that horse in the Gold Cup three months later, and thereafter was equipped with a net muzzle.
Derring Rose There was nothing malicious about Derring Rose, but sometimes he just wasn't interested in the stupid race. In 1981 he won the Stayers' Hurdle by 30 lengths, but his temperament began to assert itself after that and at Cheltenham that New Year's Eve he was at his eccentric peak. He planted himself on the way to the start, almost pulled himself up going down the far side, only consented to race from an impossible position on the home turn but was soon in the lead, only to down tools on the run-in before being coaxed home by a simply brilliant John Francome. Watch it on YouTube - type in Derring Rose.
Champion Chase winner Remittance Man shared a special bond with a sheep, while Flat ace Arcadian Heights (above right) had a tendency to bite his rivals