Rough Quest

Rough Quest 1996 Grand National Champion

  • b g Crash Course – Our Quest (Private Walk)
  • Races: 28, Wins: 8
  • Foaled: 1986
  • Breeder: M Healy
  • Trainer: Terry Casey
  • Owner: ATA Wates

Rough Quest Thoroughbred Racehorse

Rough Quest’s first career win came at lowly Huntingdon in 1991, where he got off the mark in a novice chase. A further novice win at Warwick followed later that season.

The gelding was not successful for another three years, until his Cheltenham victory in the Ritz Club National unt Handicap Chase in 1995. The next month he headed to Punchestown and took the Castlemartin Stud Handicap Chase.

The 1995/6 season was memorable for Rough Quest. In February he took the Racing Post Chase at Kempton Park. He then finished runner up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. However, Rough Quest’s name will always be remembered for his biggest win, the Martell Grand National 1996. The ten-year-old had been plagued by a constitution so fragile that he often appeared ungenuine in the heat of a close finish. The fault was diagnosed as a muscle enzyme disorder and Rough Quest’s diet was subsequently loaded with carboyhdrates and vitamin E at the expense of the high-protein intake traditional to racehorses.

Continue reading about Rough Quest

If that change helped make the horse, the part played by Mick Fitzgerald was equally important. Ice runs through the jockey’s veins. So much so that Fitzgerald castigated himself yesterday for launching Rough Quest too soon even though he waited until 200 yards from the winning post. “I wanted to challenge up the inside of Encore Un Peu but David Bridgwater closed the door on me,” he said. “I had to switch to the outside, which is when the two horses came close together.”

It was an act of pure theatre on Fitzgerald’s part, although the jockey could so easily have listened to the closing stages from the inside of an ambulance. After his second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Casey initially announced Rough Quest a non-runner at Aintree, prompting Fitzgerald, 25, to accept the ride on Bavard Dieu.

Fortunately for the Irishman, Nick Gaselee, who trains Bavard Dieu, facilitated the switch when Rough Quest re-entered the equation. Last year’s winning jockey, Jason Titley, deputised and suffered two fractured ribs when Bavard Dieu fell at the first fence. He is expected to be out of action for two weeks

As Titley lay injured, Fitzgerald enjoyed the ride of a lifetime aboard Rough Quest. Then, as he absorbed the cheers on his return to the winner’s enclosure came details of the stewards’ inquiry. “Those 15 minutes felt like an eternity,” he said yesterday. “When I watched the replay I thought David [Bridgwater] made such a meal of it that he should have won an Oscar. Luckily, the stewards didn’t buy it.”

After his Aintree win, Rough Quest returned for the 1996/7 season at Folkestone, taking the Lympne Novices Hurdle. However, he was never to capture his old form and was to win only one more race, a lowly hunter chase at Newbury in 1999.

Rough Quest’s retirement was announced later in the year. Terry Casey’s brave gelding had done him proud and earned an honourable retirement. The horse had put Terry Casey’s name firmly on the map and his bravery in the face of a career ravaged by injury should never be forgotten.