Eric's charm story, By Oliver Sherwood.
This is a write up about the late Erics Charm, a few people have asked me questions about him so as we have blank days at the moment this is what he was like from our perspective.
I already had and knew the potential talent of Monkerhostin when in 2002 I went to Doncaster Bloodstock Sales and saw his half brother who was then an un named 4yo by Nikos. He was consigned by Mill House Stud and Juliet Minton the proprietor said to me he's a looney but you will love him. He was so energetic and on the go but he had a real toughness to him and she was right I did love him.
I paid 40k for him and his new owners Martin St Quinton and Peter Deal named him Erics Charm after Martin's late father.
We set about breaking him in and what a bugger he was, as hard as nails. He would take whatever work we threw at him and when the time came for him to be ridden it was interesting , he certainly was a brave mans ride, he bolted into a tree on one of his first trips out of the yard and it was always his way to just take off if something upset him.
When Eric first joined the string there was one particular day that will live long in everyones memory and particularly David Crosse who witnessed it head on. It was a windy day and a gust of wind lifted Erics rug he then took off down hill, flat out, under Ollie Kozak and jumped a set of post and rails into a nearby field and kept galloping through the plough for at least another half a mile before Ollie could stop him by turning in ever decreasing circles. Utterly terrifying/amusing for all of us watching from behind and a story that was to be re told many times over the years.
Ollie, who was my conditional at the time, rode him in his first two races. Bumpers at Fontwell then Huntingdon. On the first occasion David Crosse happened to be riding in the race and told all the jockeys at the start not to get anywhere near Eric as he was a lunatic, Eric jumped off in front and no one got anywhere near him. The same thing happened in his second race, and we realised we had a nice horse, although somewhat quirky.
His hurdling career began with a win under A.P. at Lingfield he was very strong but jumped really well, he ran 7 times over hurdles winning three and never finishing out of the four including being runner up at Sandown in the EBF final under top weight.
His career really took off when he went chasing, he became a good handicapper over fences winning seven races and being placed a further six times from 31 runs and all in high quality races.
Eric ran his best races right handed and he particularly loved Sandown where he won The London National in his penultimate race at the age of 13, an occasion that bought a tear to many an eye.
He was a joy to train amassing nearly two hundred thousand in win and place money during his career and he always gave one hundred per cent, the few falls he had could be attributed to over exuberance rather than poor jumping.
He was a horse that didn't show affection but if he liked/ trusted you he would allow you to give it to him. He was tricky to clip, and was never plaited in his races as you couldn't get near his head and if we ever wanted to scope him or inject him he had to go to the vets and be put in an enclosed pen.
Eric had a spell on the side lines after picking up a leg injury in the Jewson novice handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2005 and had to have a year off, he hated it, when the string walked past his paddock every morning he would walk along the fence with them then walk back in when we came back and this was repeated every lot every day. He was utterly miserable not to be going with the rest even though he had mates with him in the field.
We sadly lost him at Newbury on 25th March 2011, he made a mistake and had he fallen he would most likely have been ok but his determination to stand up caused his fatal injury, a fighter to the end.
There was the usual rubbish written after he was killed, by people that knew nothing about him, condemning us for persevering with him at 13 but he was an athlete that loved to compete, he hadn't been over raced so he still had miles on the clock and his zest for racing and working never wained.
He wouldn't have wanted to be retired to a field and he wasn't an easy ride so he couldn't have done anything else if it didn't involve going as quickly as possible.
For his entire career he marched to the gallops every morning and couldn't wait to get there, he loved schooling and used to go flat out over the fences but was quick and clever on his feet, he literally danced in front of a fence. I think if we had left his stable door open he would have taken himself off up to the schooling ground, such was his enthusiasm for jumping and galloping.
To know Eric was to love him and as tragic as it was to lose him the way we did in some ways it was befitting of the life he had led