Welsh Grand National Hopeful Killed in Arson Attack
You may be familiar with the incredible story of Dream Alliance. It was the ultimate equine rags to riches tale and captured the imagination of racing enthusiasts worldwide.
Dream Alliance was bred by Janet Vokes, who had previously only bred whippets and racing pigeons! When working as a barmaid at a local pub, she apparently overheard a local tax adviser discussing a racehorse that he had once owned. Vokes was inspired by what she heard and decided to breed a racehorse! Together with her husband, she went on to purchase a mare for just £350.00 as the horse had been injured by barbed wire and possessed a poor temperament.
Breeding the Dream
The mare, Rewbell, was subsequently bred to Bien Bien and a foal, Dream Alliance, was born in 2001. The horse was reared on an allotment belonging to the Vokes in Cefn Fforest, South Wales. The couple could not afford to finance training for the horse. But Howard Davies, the man whose previous foray into the world of racing had inspired Janet Vokes to breed the foal, came up with an excellent idea. He organised a syndicate of local people to pay for the training. Each member of the syndicate paid just £10 per week.
Dream Alliance went on to win the Welsh Grand National and a movie was made about his exploits. The horse hit the headlines across the globe and despite never winning another race became something of a superstar.
Living the Dream - Again
Brian and Janet Vokes recently decided to have another go at breeding a racehorse. Their mare Juwireya produced Rodney, a good prospect for the Welsh Grand National who was to race under the name Impossible Dream. Like Dream Alliance, Rodney was funded by a group of friends from the local working men’s club. But tragedy struck recently when the Vokes’ stable became the victim of an arson attack.
The couple were alerted to a fire at their stables at 6.30am. They rushed to the site to find the emergency services tackling the blaze. Sadly, two-year-old Rodney was killed in the fire and his mother, Juwireya, was seriously burned. The Vokes initially believed that both horses were lost but Juwireya was later found alive having fled through the back of the stables.
Aftermath and Investigation
The fire was determined by investigators to be the result of arson and now both the fire service and Gwent Police are carrying out an investigation. The Vokes have absolutely no idea why they would have been targeted in such an attack and are heartbroken at the loss of Rodney and the suffering caused to his mother. They have offered a cash reward for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrator. The fire resulted in over £3,000 of damage to their property to make the episode even more difficult to cope with.
Hopefully the arsonist will be tracked down and suitably punished. Not that any punishment would make up for the loss of a treasured horse.