Tragic Postscript to Chester Vase as Hidden Law Suffers Catastrophic Fracture

Chester Racecourse

The sun shone down on the Roodee for the opening day of the hugely popular Chester May meeting as the crowds swarmed to the track for an excellent card lit up by the Listed Class Cheshire Oaks and the main attraction of the Group 3 Chester Vase. As ever, organisers delivered a top-class day out, but despite the quality racing action and facilities, the day was marred by the tragic scenes which unfolded in the aftermath of the feature event.

Hidden Law Shows His Class

Held over the 1m4f trip, the 117-year-old Chester Vase has long been used as a stepping stone towards the Epsom Derby, with many trainers believing the distinctive tight turns of the track provide an ideal preparation for Epsom, which places similar demands upon the balance of contenders. Shergar won this en route to his 1981 Derby romp, Ruler Of The World completed the Chester Vase/Derby double in 2013, and shock 2017 Epsom hero Wings Of Eagles finished second here in 2017.

Chester Vase Results 2024
Chester Vase Results 2024 via Racing Post

The 2024 line-up presented a field small in numbers but potentially high in quality, with four of the six runners holding a Derby entry. As is so often the case in Group class middle-distance events, the powerful Ballydoyle and Godolphin operations provided the main attractions; the Aidan O’Brien duo of Agenda and Grosvenor Square representing team Ballydoyle, and Charlie Appleby’s Hidden Law going for the boys in blue.

Grosvenor Square failed to hit the heights during the race, but stablemate Agenda – under an enterprising ride from Tom Marquand – threatened to be tough to pass as he led the field into the straight. However, Hidden Law swept by with ease – forging clear to score by three lengths under William Buick.

Tragedy Strikes

Following such an authoritative success, Hidden Law thrust himself firmly into the Derby picture, with the style of his win backed up by an appealing pedigree for Epsom, with the good-looking bay being by Dubawi and out of the Group winning Galileo mare, Secret Gesture. Following the flop of City Of Troy in the 2,000 Guineas, it seems feasible he may have been installed as the new favourite for the Epsom showpiece. Sadly, we will never see Hidden Law at the track again.

Only a few strides after crossing the winning line, Hidden Law took a false step and suffered a catastrophic fracture to his right foreleg – a freak incident, with no blame apportioned to the racecourse, which was deemed to be in pristine condition.

Unlike humans, whom we can instruct to lie in bed and keep the weight off their leg, it is all but impossible for a horse to recover from such an injury. As such, Hidden Law was unfortunately euthanised at the track. A devastating blow for all concerned with Godolphin, who experienced the stark highs and lows of racing following the spectacular victory of Notable Speech in the 2,000 Guineas.