THE owners of Cheltenham winner Mad Moose have never had a horse quite like him.
Middleham Park Racing own talented horses such as Junior and Penitent, who was second at Epsom yesterday, but none has surprised them as much as Nigel Twiston-Davies' quirky gelding.
Mad Moose produced one of the most extraordinary performances in recent times at Cheltenham when coming from well behind to win in April last year.
Other achievements include finishing runner-up to Sprinter Sacre on Festival Trials Day, winning on his Flat debut aged ten at Doncaster and taking second spot in a Group Three race on the Flat at Chester.
But he also earned a reputation for digging his heels in and refusing to race, as he has done in three of his past five outings.
Middleham Park Racing spokesman Nick Bradley said: "You shake your head at racing sometimes, the way it surprises you, but this horse has surprised us more than any horse. When he won at Cheltenham, he hit a couple of fences and was 40 lengths out the back but caught a couple of front-runners to win.
"To us, that day warranted us buying the horse and at that point we'd achieved what he wanted to achieve with him.
"When he finished second to Sprinter Sacre, they gave him a 40-length start and he didn't get involved in the Sprinter Sacre race, he just ran his own race.
"Everything came past him because they were all chasing Sprinter Sacre and we were just doing our own thing.
"Seeing him stay on up the hill to finish second was brilliant.
"He would never have caught Sprinter Sacre but it was some run.
"Chester was a highlight as well, finishing second in a Group Three.
"This time Danny (Tudhope) rode him and he got his tactics spot-on and he picked up the pieces.
"The horse has given us great days out on big days.
"Every now and again he refuses to race and we're back scratching our heads again.
"He just realises that if he doesn't run he gets to go home in the horse box and go out in the field and if he does run he gets to go home in the horse box and go out in a field.
"He's just a smart, cheeky horse. He's just pushing the boundaries a bit, a bit like a naughty school kid, with what he can get away with and what he can't get away with."
Mad Moose's next race could be the Queen Alexandra Stakes over two miles and five furlongs on the final day of Royal Ascot, Saturday, June 22.
As Britain's longest Flat race, it could fit the bill perfectly for him and Twiston-Davies is taking steps to try and ensure all goes to plan.
Bradley said: "What Nigel has said he's going to do is take him to as many race-meetings as possible and before or after racing just get him to jump off and hopefully when he does go to the big day, at Ascot or wherever it will be, he does jump off.
"He's our first horse with Nigel and we've sent him another one now, True Blue, because of the success we've had with Mad Moose.
"There's lots of good National Hunt trainers out there and Nigel's one of them.