record-breaker defied the odds

FITTING FAREWELL: Trainer Don Cantillon with La Estrella who he has decided to retire after becoming the horse with the most all-weather race wins last week
FITTING FAREWELL: Trainer Don Cantillon with La Estrella who he has decided to retire after becoming the horse with the most all-weather race wins last week

Newmarket-based trainer Don Cantillon has hailed La Estrella as one of the greatest after deciding to retire the unlikely record-breaker.

The 12-year-old entered the history books last week after he became the horse with the most wins ever in all-weather racing by winning his 27th race at Southwell on Tuesday.

It was the 16th time he had won on that course in a racing career which also saw him clinch eight victories at Wolverhampton, two at Lingfield and one at Chelmsford as he accumulated £64,255 in win purses.

However, the record breaking feat takes on a much greater significance when it becomes clear that Le Estrella’s rise to prominence was far from straight forward and may never had started.

“He was out injured for 700 days about six years ago and had badly damaged both his front tendons, he was as good as lame,” said Cantillon, who trains out of the Hackness Villa Stables in Exeter Road, Newmarket.

“He was going to be sold and so I took him in with the pure intention of re-homing him. However, nothing materialised and so we got him back walking and then slowly galloping again.

“After about three months he was back in great shape and after a little while we got him involved in a flat race at Southwell where he more than held his own.

“That was his big break and from there the rest is history, it is fitting that he broke the record back at Southwell, it has been quite the journey to say the least.

“I’m really proud of what he has achieved, this record is all about him. The fact he won a handicap race in his last run having not won one for three years sums him up perfectly, when you think of giving up on him, he shocks you.

“It is a fairy-tale story really. To come from where he did to break records and give me the best day of my life by coming fifth at Royal Ascot is just incredible, he’s a truly fabulous horse, one of the greatest.”

Having been on such a remarkable journey, it is perhaps not overly surprising that Cantillon has taken the decision to retire the horse, who turns 13 tomorrow, despite admitting the peak condition racer could keep going for another two years.

“As a gesture to the horse, we won’t ask him to race again. I’ve decided that he will now be retired,” added Cantillon.

“Some people may be surprised because he could race for a few more years, but if he was to run again and get injured, that would be down to my greed and I’m not going to do that to him.

“Of course it will be sad not to see him keep going as he’s the most exciting and best horse I’ve ever had, but he deserves the rest.”