Leon's visit to the wind specialist was very interesting - Much to his indignation he was strapped up with a cage on his head with a scope up his nostril and a computer draped across his shoulders and made to canter, with Toby on board around a deep sand gallop. Ben, the vet, had a screen which showed the inside of Leon's windpipe and showed the larynx opening and closing whilst working. They had designed the gallop to work the horse as hard as possible without risking damaging the legs and normally after 2-3 miles the horse is tired enough for the palate to collapse if it is going to. Leon on the other hand just kept going at a very good pace and after four miles Ben, the vet, asked Toby to pull him up. He couldn't believe how fit he was, and that he was flat bred, as it is very unusual for even a National hunt horse to be able to go more than three miles. However, disappointingly the palate didn't collapse, which would have given us a definite reason for his sudden stop on Sunday so we were none the wiser and still still scratching our heads. Ben then decided to take a trachea wash, which is where the endoscope is passed down through the trachea and a solution is flushed into the lungs and then sucked back up into a syringe and examined for abnormal cells. He could hardly suck the fluid back out as it was so full of mucus and pink with blood, where he had obviously bled during the race. "There's your answer!" he said - Leon, has a virus which would have affected his performance. Hmmmm - I'm not 100% convinced that having the virus would have stopped him so suddenly, but he is now on anti-biotics, and as he was probably at the tail-end of it, it won't be long before he is back on the track. It makes you wonder though, that if Leon is carrying the virus, and he looks as well if not better than anything else in the yard, then who else might be? We know that Harry picked his up at the same time as Alex Hales did (18 months ago) and Harry is only just fully recovered, and poor Alex has lost the majority of his owners because of it even though he is a brilliant trainer . Very frustrating, but hopefully this better weather and the fact that our horses spend so much time in the open air we won't be affected by it too much.
I guess we will find out more over the week-end where Jess and Cyril may be going to Godstone, and Laverty and Shade to Maismore, depending on the ground.