The talented chaser Pilgrims Bay has sadly passed away at the age of eight, following a rare infection.

Almost a year to the day since his biggest win in the 2017 BetBright Handicap Chase, connections recalled a talented but quirky character, who had to be held up and delivered at the last minute in his races.

Those tactics were performed to perfection by James Best in that race, as Pilgrims Bay beat subsequent King George VI Chase runner-up Double Shuffle, at Kempton Park.

Best told the Racing Post: “He gave me the biggest day of my career so far and I’ll forever be grateful to him and to his connections for that. Everything was in his favour that day at Kempton and he was a very good horse when he had things his way.

“He became known for being quirky, but he had heaps of ability too. Once you knew how to ride him then he was more than capable.”

Having started out with David Pipe, Pilgrims Bay moved to the yard of Neil Mulholland, but raced throughout in the familiar red-and-yellow silks of Wayne and Sarah Clifford, who co-owned him with two others.Wayne Clifford recalled: “He was always a quirky bugger but was also a good horse.

“I remember his first race at Ffos Las, when he looked like he was going to win by 20 lengths before he nearly pulled himself up. I was so convinced he was going to win that I’d already started walking to the bookies to pick up my winnings from the £20 I’d had each-way.

“Once we figured he needed horses around him all the time to be at his best he was getting better and better with his racing, so it’s such a shame he had an infection. We took him in three times for surgery but there was nothing we could do about it.”

Pilgrims Bay joined Neil Mulholland during 2016 and saddled him for victories at Sandown and then Kempton, as well as for a fifth in this season’s Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury.

“Kempton and Sandown were two very good days, very memorable,” said Mulholland. “We didn’t have him for very long and he was a character, but everyone in the yard loved him, especially my head girl Maisie Bush. It’s very sad and a big loss.”

Pilgrims Bay won three of his 20 races and was placed eight times, earning £95,140 in prize-money.