When we cover racing, we tend to focus on the tricolours at Cheltenham, on the miraculous achievements of Willie Mullins or Aidan O'Brien, on the iron man will of AP McCoy, the big beast owners such as Michael O'Leary or Rich Ricci, or the characters, such as trainer Mouse Morris or bookmaker Paddy Power.
What we sometimes forget is that it's a bloody hard slog, especially for small owners that manage to catch a dream in a bottle. One such owner was Maura Gittins, who had the brilliant mare, 'Fayonagh', in training with Gordon Elliott. This horse was going all the way to the top before she sadly lost her life today, humanely killed after breaking her hind leg on the gallops in Meath.
'Fayonagh' was some prospect. She was probably a furlong behind at the start of the Champion Bumper back in Cheltenham in March and 13th at one stage towards the business end of that race, before sprouting wings that would put 'Red Bull' to shame to come from the clouds under jockey Jamie Codd and land the prize. She followed up with another success at the Punchestown festival and made an effortless winning debut over hurdles earlier this month.
Elliott may have trained six winners on one day in Punchestown last week, but after losing another horse, 'Mega Fortune', in a fall recently, the lows may eclipse the highs for him right now.
Owners fork out a lot of money in acquiring a horse and training fees can average around €1500 a month, the price of a mortgage in some parts. It's so hard to compete with the big owners like Gigginstown and JP McManus, that when the dream materialises, it's hugely exciting for all concerned. That 'Fayonagh's' life is over is the cruel side of our game, the bitter against the sweet. Elliott described himself as 'heartbroken' today. He is. He most certainly is.