TOP jockey Daryl Jacob has spoken of his heartbreak after the death of his favourite horse.
Jacob had a special bond with Top Notch, who passed away on Sunday after failed stomach surgery.
The Irishman partnered the late, Nicky Henderson-trained 10-year-old on 23 of his 33 career starts, with the pair combining for 10 wins.
Among their finest victories together was the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown in 2017, plus two editions of the Peterborough Chase.
Jacob had hoped to take the horse home with him upon his retirement and he has been devastated by the loss of his ‘best friend’.
Jacob said: “It has hit me hard, it’s like losing a best friend.
“When I started my journey with Simon, Isaac and Anthony Bromley [racing manager], he was the first good horse I got to ride, so we’ve had a long association.
“He was due to come back to me for his retirement – and I didn’t want it to end this way.
“My wife Kelly and the kids used to come racing whenever he ran. They loved him too – he was a family horse to us.”
He added: “He was a wonderful little horse, very kind and laid-back.
“He wasn’t very big, but he had a massive heart and loved pleasing people.
“We had some great days together, winning the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Chase and two Peterborough Chases, and I enjoyed every moment with him.
“If I was in at Nicky’s, I used to get there early to go and see him with his head over the door.”
Henderson shared Jacob’s sentiments and said Top Notch was one of the most popular horses at Seven Barrows.
Henderson said: “It’s really awful and it has hit everybody. If you had a poll at Seven Barrows, he’d come out the most popular horse by some way.
“He was on holiday and wasn’t retired as he just loved it. He never missed a day’s work and went to every dance there was.
“He was one of those horses you don’t find very often – he was sound, willing and able. He would do anything for you.
“He got his Grade 1 at Sandown and the Peterborough Chase – a race he won twice – was made for him.
“He wasn’t quite a Grade 1 chaser or a great work horse, but he was Mr Consistency in every way and a trainer’s dream. He loved life and all he wanted to do was please.”
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