Jamie Osborne was able to reflect on Sunday on an “extraordinary day” which saw one of the staff bungalows in his yard burn down before brave filly Constanzia went on to win at Chelmsford.
The Lambourn trainer looked back on the “petrifying” blaze that took hold on Saturday morning – and saluted the “amazing” filly who defied the flames to give his stable a huge boost just hours later.
Osborne told Racing TV’s Luck On Sunday programme: “I got a phone call at 4am saying the bungalow, which is surrounded by 10 stables, was on fire. I got out there and it looked at that stage like we could get it under control, obviously the fire brigade had been called.
“We were frantically getting fire extinguishers and thinking we could control it, but sadly it was quite windy and it was a swirly wind, that kept moving. One minute it looked like we’d got it under control, and the next it was just petrifying.
“It ripped through the building. It was quite clear then we were going to lose the building. Once we’d got the three people in the house out, we had to prioritise the horses.
“The wind really got up and there were a couple of horses where the flames were virtually coming into their stables and we just couldn’t get them out. We were frantically trying just to wet those buildings, in order that it didn’t spread.
“It was fairly scary – I’ve never heard a noise like it, and we were trying to control the uncontrollable. The consequences of not controlling it were going to be horrendous.
“The house had virtually gone by the time six fire engines arrived – not their fault at all, they had to come from Swindon and Newbury, so it took a bit longer than ideal.
“Now that the dust has settled – God we were lucky.”
While admitting to reservations about doing so, Osborne elected to run some of his horses later in the day, including Constanzia.
He added: “The amazing thing yesterday was Constanzia at Chelmsford. Three that ran yesterday were next to the fire and I thought long and hard about it. One vastly underperfomed, the two-year-old at Newmarket, albeit in a good race.
“The poor filly that was closest to the flames, they were virtually going into her stable and we couldn’t get her out.
“She was amazing. Who knows what goes on in their heads, some of them were panicked and I sent her to the races open-minded, but she went and won. These animals never cease to amaze me, they are incredible.
“For her to do that was extraordinary.”
Osborne praised the local community for helping to re-stable some of the horses – and if there had not been enough drama for one day, he explained he was later in hospital with his daughter, Saffron, after a spill for some of his riders on the gallops.
He said: “Obviously we were all hands on deck. My staff were superb. Katie, my wife, and I and the three people who were in the house were frantically trying to stop it spreading from there to the stables.
“Stan Moore was at a wedding in Scotland, but his wife Sarah helped us stable a few horses there and Brian O’Rourke over the road helped out, everybody was brilliant and we just had to keep going.
“It was quite a morning, we galloped the horses, had four loose ones, a broken ankle and two concussions! It wasn’t the best day we’ve ever had. We were back to normal today, there’s obviously a lot of cleaning up to do, but the show goes on.
“My daughter was one of the ones who got buried yesterday morning. We had four two-year-old fillies loose on Mandown, I just thought, ‘what else can go wrong?’.
“We managed to catch all the animals eventually and it doesn’t look like they’ve come to any harm – it was just an extraordinary day.”
The trait of most trainers, however, is to always look on the bright side and Osborne is clearly no different.
With Royal Ascot on the horizon, all his thoughts are now on that meeting.
“Ascot never leaves the forefront of my mind, we won’t let something like this interrupt those thoughts,” said Osborne.
“We have two two-year-olds going. Emten will run in the Queen Mary – she’s a very fast filly – and Seraphinite, who won at Kempton, will go in the Albany.
“Plenty of improvement in both of those, they are live chances in my mind.”