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Abandoned horse makes miraculous recovery

War Celeste © Racing post

War Celeste

© Racing post


A racehorse who cost 240,000 guineas has been described as looking like a 'bag of bones who was waiting to die' by a volunteer from a charity who found the mare, along with ten other horses, locked in an abandoned yard in County Cork.

War Celeste, a daughter of War Front who attracted the six-figure sales price when bought by the China Horse Club as a yearling, had been in training with David Wachman but never raced and was sold to be a broodmare in 2015.

It is unclear how War Celeste ended up at the farm in Cork, where dogs and ponies were also found starving and surrounded by excrement last year.

War Celeste, who has since miraculously been nursed back to health, was saved by the My Lovely Horse Rescue charity.

Maddie Doyle, a volunteer for the organisation, said: "We got a call from a member of the public about concerns for horses in the near area. We went to see it and it was distressing, you looked at the animals and thought it is only a matter of days. They were standing there waiting to die.

"It's hard to describe, there was an awful silence - even the dogs didn't bark. You would expect to see a horse's head over the top of the door but you could only see their legs because of the amount of manure in there, it had raised the floor a few feet. The horses had to be dug out."

She added: "We have seen this [neglect] before but never on this scale. War Celeste had two rugs on her, but no bedding, so she was lying in manure, urine and there was no signs of feeding. She was a bag of bones underneath the rug."

Action was taken urgently and immediately. The charity took in five horses and ponies in total, two of which were sadly euthanised. As well as War Celeste, the charity took care of a 19-year-old, who has been renamed Grampa John, and a pony, who has since be rehomed.

The prognosis was not good for War Celeste, but perseverance and care has led to a remarkable recovery.

Doyle said: "When they arrived at our centre it was all hands on deck for the recovery. The vet doesn't like saying things to us - he knows how we are - but he told us, 'I'm not sure these three are going to make a recovery. You may need to look at euthanising them'. But we tried our best.

"Thoroughbreds aren't easy animals to bring back from the brink. When they get to that level you just think, 'We've lost them'. You look on the outside and think they need feeding, but there can be so much wrong on the inside with damage from starvation."

Doyle added: "We don't give up too easily. We put in a lot of time and we have a team for weekly assessments, feeding and farrier work and she did it, she recovered. It is in the name 'War' - she was a fighter and just came through it.

"It's a huge pleasure seeing her. Thoroughbreds are sensitive creatures, she's a very kind, gentle and good-natured mare and it gives us a great feeling seeing her how she is now."

War Celeste, along with Grampa John, will stay at the charity's rescue centre. The Gardai in Cork are investigating the abandonment and are pursuing 'a definite line of inquiry'.


This article first appeared on Racing.com and is reprinted here with their kind permission. To find out more about Racing Victoria's Off the Track program, visit rv.racing.com/the-horse/off-the-track.






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