RACING: Tribute paid to HEROS flagbearer Monsignor

Oxford Mail: Monsignor jumps the final flight under Norman Williamson to win the Royal & SunAlliance Novices’ Hurdle at the 2000 Cheltenham Festival Monsignor jumps the final flight under Norman Williamson to win the Royal & SunAlliance Novices’ Hurdle at the 2000 Cheltenham Festival

Grace Muir, chief executive and founder of the Homing Ex-Racehorses Organisation Scheme (HEROS) at Fawley, near Wantage, has paid tribute to dual Cheltenham Festival hero Monsignor, who died last Friday.

The 19-year-old, who has been an ambassador for HEROS since the organisation was established in 2006, was put down after suffering a recurrence of an injury to his left fore tendon.

He won eight of his ten races when trained by Mark Pitman at Lambourn, including the Champion Bumper in 1999 and the Royal & SunAlliance Novices’ Hurdle in 2000 in record time.

He also become the first horse to beat subsequent triple Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Best Mate when they met in the 2000 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown.

A tendon injury prevented him from going chasing, which led to his retirement in 2005 after which he was gifted to HEROS by owner Malcolm Denmark.

He became the equine face of the charity, making a host of appearances at open days and racecourses, including three outings to British Champions Day at Ascot, where he also carried the Olympic Torch and Frankie Dettori in 2012.

Muir said: “I have known him for what seems like forever and he will leave a huge gap in our lives.

“He was a great character, a kind and gentle giant who nevertheless had a great zest for life.

“A huge thank you to Monsignor for all he has done for HEROS and we will always treasure the times we had with him.”

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