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Racing could not escape tragedy in 2019. Everyone knows it, everyone felt it and some even did something about it. Some. Racing could not escape tragedy in 2019. Everyone knows it, everyone felt it and some even did something about it. Some. 

The steeplechase world couldn’t escape it either and tragedy hit hard in the American Grand National at Far Hills in New Jersey in late October when European star Wicklow Brave fell while in front at the last fence of the Grade 1 stakes on steeplechase racing’s biggest stage of the autumn season. He suffered a broken shoulder and was euthanized. 

“Wicklow Brave was Rafael Nadal, Cristiano Ronaldo, Eliud Kipchoge – or racing’s version anyway – and he was coming here,” Joe Clancy wrote in his piece titled “Wicklow Brave” that appeared in his The Outside Rail blog and paid tribute to the legend after he passed. 

Joe recounted his conversation with Willie Mullins about the gelding coming across the Atlantic for the Grand National. Mullins answered on the third ring.

“I was glad I’d made the call. I hoped Mullins was happy he picked up the phone,” Joe wrote. “He called back to tell me he knew a Joe Clancy in Ireland who was a singer. We’re not related, or I don’t think we are.

“The trainer wasn’t making the trip to New Jersey, leaving the race-day preparations to his son and assistant Patrick. Wicklow Brave was ready, Mullins said. He’d give a good accounting of himself.“And he did. Until time and fate and luck and whatever it is that takes gallant horses away from the game too soon caught up to him. In front at the last fence and maybe, probably going to win, he fell – leaving the victory to Brain Power for England and trainer Nicky Henderson. Veterinarians diagnosed a broken shoulder, and Wicklow Brave was euthanized. He joined a sad list of greats to go out in a race: Ruffian, Go For Wand, Warm Spell, Divine Fortune, Best Mate and so on.”

The story appeared Oct. 30 and is No. 7 on the This Is Horse Racing Top 10 for 2019. 

No. 7: Wicklow Brave 

Check out the rest of the TIHR Top 10 for 2019:

No. 10: A Tie at the Top for Mitchell, Doyle

No. 9: Jumping Around podcast Part 1 with Sheppard

No. 8. Senior Senator rolls to Hunt Cup win

No. 7: Wicklow Brave