In The United states overnight, many things happened.
Mostly concerning the speech the President gave re the jet going down in Tehran and the strikes on Iraq. But also, quite quietly in the grand scheme of things, the sudden, impossibly unpredicted death of a US racing icon in X Y JET.
This big grey flying machine had a cult following. He had earned $3million in stakes, was the defending Gr 1 Golden Shaheen winner from Dubai and was working up a treat.
Yet somehow, after a routine track gallop, he pulled up propped a stride or two, then died of an apparent heart-attack.
His trainer, Jorge Navarro, a battler who narrowly got by for years before X Y Jet came into his life, was mortified this morning.
“Beyond the racetracks, XY Jet became part of my family, was like the older brother of my children and of course, that affection extended to all those who in one way or another related to this swift, mood, but noble racehorse.
“Since his arrival at my stable at the end of 2014, I immediately felt that connection with him, which remained until today and will surely remain with me until the day of my departure.
“I owe X Y Jet so much, that I’m sure there are no words that can specify my thanks to his nobility and class, I do not say goodbye to a horse, I say goodbye to a friend that I will carry forever in my heart.”
Heart attack is fairly uncommon in race horses.
Strictly speaking, horses don’t suffer from heart attacks in the same way that people do. A heart attack refers to a blockage of a coronary artery which supplies the heart.
This causes part of the heart muscle to die, and if the blockage is big enough, a heart attack can cause sudden death in a person.
Horses don’t get blocked coronary arteries, but they do experience sudden death for other reasons. Sudden death in horses is a rare event as a percentage, but because so many horses are raced, a fair number die each week at racetracks. Not all of these deaths are truly cardiovascular sudden death; many are instances of catastrophic musculoskeletal injury.
The most common cause of sudden death in horse athletes is a rupture of the aorta, which is the biggest artery in the body. The horse subsequently very quickly bleeds out into its chest cavity.
Some of these horses probably have an aneurysm of the aorta, or a prior weakening of the blood vessel wall, which predisposes to rupture when blood pressure increases during exercise. Research is underway to try to find the cause(s) of the underlying arterial wall weakness in certain horses.
The next most common cause is probably an arrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythm during exercise.