THREE years ago on this day a Valleys syndicate thought their eyes were deceiving them.
Their racehorse Dream Alliance had achieved the impossible, a win in the Welsh National of 2009.
It was the ultimate fairytale, given the 20-1 outsider had recovered from a severed tendon in his front leg and the 22 members of The Alliance Partnership paid £20,000 for a life-saving operation.
Their big win was the stuff of dreams for the small racing owner.
They lived the Dream.
But nine races later the 11-year-old, born on a disused allotment next to Blackwood Rugby Club, failed to recover his sparkle.
He has since been retired to the home of his former groom Claire, who looked after him at Philip Hobbs’ stable.
Members of the syndicate felt it was time for the old boy to enjoy his days being ridden out, rather than racing at full pelt, because he was happier that way.
“He had his problems with his breathing and he was bursting blood vessels,” said syndicate spokesman Howard Davies.
Since victory at Chepstow, the gelding ran nine times, in six of them failing to complete the course.
One of these was when he was pulled up in the Grand National at Aintree, a challenge he did not fancy.
Davies said Dream Alliance fell out of love with the game altogether, because he was probably remembering his injuries.
“When he ran at Ffos Las (November 2011) he looked like he was going to hose up but he stopped very quickly,” said Davies.
“We then took him to Warwick and he hated every moment of it. He didn’t try a tap.
“He went to Cheltenham and after that Kelso following a break and trainer John Flint had him looking a million dollars.
“But he was pulled up on the second circuit.
“We decided to do the right thing and retire him.”
Davies still watches a re-run of Dream Alliance’s win before he goes to bed each night and his breeder Jan Vokes said Chepstow lives long in the memory.
“It was a fairytale, unbelievable,” she said.
“You have to live the moment when you have races like the Welsh National.” Mrs Vokes says the Dream lives on in his sister.
Recurring Dream is about to go back into training with Flint following a recovery from injury.
She was disappointed her hero didn’t come back to her in the Valleys, but appreciates he will have an active life in his new West Country home.
“His success will be something to tell the grandchildren, that’s for sure!” she added.