Grapevine Stories

A tribute to Frenchman's Creek

Frenchie as he was known to us all, died peacefully on Midsummer's night in the presence of his young charges and stable mate, Tom Paddington. He was our hero and I felt I owed it to him to give him an obituary he truly deserves.

I know this is not anything to do with Grapevine but I felt I had to post this as Frenchman’s Creek was a huge part of many of our lives and we all worshipped him.

Frenchman’s Creek, our hero's days came to an end at the great age of 25, sometime during Midsummer’s Night at Fonthill, where he spent a very happy retirement keeping all the foals and yearlings In check.

Some of you may not have heard of Frenchman’s Creek but this is a horse who my step-father Hughie, bred and trained and we later owned together with my brother, Rory.

Frenchie gave us so much fun and excitement, not least with an amazing win at the Cheltenham Festival in 2002 - The William Hill chase, a race remembered by many for the amazing way he won it. This probably really put Hughie on the map as a great trainer that he is today.

He had many top placings in grade one chases, among them, The Great Yorkshire chase, then what used to be called The Whitbread Gold Cup and many more. 

When he retired from racing I turned him as best I could, into an event horse.He took to it pretty well ( but not without a few hitches along the way! )hcompeted up to two star level ( what is now three star) going clear round Barbary CIC**. We had an awful lot of fun and his talent and scope was endless, the brain was just little revved up for the dressage at times! 

Sadly navicular got the better of him and we decided it was in his best interests to retired him.

Thirlstane Castle Somerley Intermediate

Frenchie had this wonderful presence and charisma that was larger than life and we all feel lucky to have had him in our lives, and I am truly grateful for this. 

There are few horses they will ever have the presence and grace he had. I almost feel like he planned his departure as it is the first time that my mother, Hughie and my brother have all been racing together at Ascot yesterday since the day he won at the festival in 2002, I think he wanted us all to be together when we heard the sad news.

Sleep well you precious boy and we will be ever grateful for everything you have done for us and we’ll never forget you. 

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