- Henry Brooke paid an emotional tribute to Gesskille following his fatal injury
- Gelding received immediate veterinary attention but damage was irreparable
- Brooke remarkably rode White Rhino to victory in his very next race
Henry Brooke broke down in tears on television as the jockey came to terms with the fatal injury suffered by his ‘friend’ Gesskille at Cheltenham.
The heartbreaking side of National Hunt racing came to the fore yesterday, when Gesskille, who was well-fancied for the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, was pulled up sharply by Brooke after jumping the 16th of 30 fences.
Gesskille, a seven-year-old gelding trained by Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero, received immediate veterinary attention but the damage he sustained was irreparable. The impact of the incident was huge and connections, including his lass Rachel Lytham, were left utterly bereft.
Remarkably, 33-year-old Brooke, who rode his first ever winner at Cheltenham last month, was able to gather his poise and won the very next race on White Rhino, also trained by Greenall and Guerriero. Nothing, though, made up for the sense of loss.
‘It’s one of the hardest days of racing I’ve had in a long time,’ Brooke told ITV Racing. ‘White Rhino was brilliant, but nothing can change we’ve lost a friend in Gesskille, a big member of the team. It’s just a sad day all round. We’ve lost a star. It’s very emotional. I’m absolutely gutted for everybody.’
Henry Brooke remarkably rode White Rhino to victory in his very next race of the day
White Rhino is trained by Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero, who were also the trainers of Gesskille
Greenall and Guerriero are based in Cheshire and their yard is upwardly mobile but they endured one significant blow earlier this winter when Iroko, who they train for JP McManus, suffered a season-ending injury.
That, however, paled into insignificance after what happened to Gesskille, who last month had won the Grand Sefton Chase at Aintree and was on an upward trajectory. He had travelled powerfully through the Cross Country Chase and it jarred to see him left stricken so abruptly.
Guerriero said: ‘It was horrible, I’d rather swap them round and not have a winner but have Gesskille back. He was the stable star, he put us on the map and he’s been amazing. To lose him is just so, so crap. That’s racing unfortunately.’
The stable added in a statement on X: ‘It is devastating for all of the staff at Stockton Hall and the owners to have lost our lovely Gesskille. He was loved by everyone in the yard and was such a special horse to all of us.
‘He gave us so many great memories and will be sadly missed by everyone.’
Cheltenham racecourse issued a statement of their own after the race, won by Dan Skelton’s Latenightpass under jockey Gina Andrews. It read: ‘Gesskille was immediately attended by expert veterinary professionals during our sixth race, but sadly sustained a fatal injury. Our heartfelt condolences are with his connections.’