A one-eared racehorse has caught the public’s imagination after winning his first race under Rules.
Ryalex, trained by 2017 Grand National-winning trainer Lucinda Russell, won by a gaping distance of 24 lengths at Carlisle on Monday (12 November) under jockey Stephen Mulqueen.
The horse previously raced in a hood, which hid the fact he only has one ear, so it was only when Lucinda decided to run him without that his missing ear became visible to the general public.
“The hood has earpieces, so it makes him look like he has both ears,” Lucinda told H&H.
“When we bought him he only had one ear — apparently when he was a four-year-old point-to-pointer he got it caught in the bars of a cattle pen and damaged the ear.”
This was then fully removed by a vet and the seven-year-old is still able to prick his good ear, while the stump moves as it would if he still had a full left ear.
“To start with we were worried that the bridle might fall off or that he might have trouble with it, and actually we used to ride him out with the hood at home to give him that false ear,” said Lucinda, adding that they also considered sewing the bridle into his plaits.
Lucinda said the stump is large enough to keep the bridle in place and that Ryalex’s hearing is still perfect as it is the outer part of his ear that was damaged, rather than the internal structure.
“He is so sweet that it is horrible to think he went through the pain of losing his ear, he is a very gentle horse,” added Lucinda.
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In an update on her website, Lucinda credited the patience of the horse’s owners with his success.
“He may only have one ear but he has a big heart, and Ryalex showed his love of softer ground and a right handed track to win at Carlisle this afternoon,” she said.
“Not totally straightforward, Ryalex and his owners, County Set Five, have endured tendon problems as well as various other small issues and today’s win is a credit to their patience.
“Stephen, who rides him most days at home and has taught him to settle, deserves much credit and his worry that he had ridden a finish a circuit early was unfounded.
“We will find another right handed chase for him before his mark goes up, but if he remains in good heart and shape then he should have a few more wins in him.”
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