Past heroes of the racetrack returned to Cheltenham yesterday (Tuesday 10 March) to parade for fans on the first day of the 2015 Cheltenham Festival.
Gold Cup winners Denman (pictured below) and Kauto Star (pictured top) were joined by four-time World Hurdle winner Big Buck’s, who is now enjoying a second career hunting, as well as Blazing Bailey, Comply Or Die and Jack The Giant.
Charlotte Alexander, who has been hunting and team chasing Denman since he retired from Paul Nicholls yard in 2011, was delighted to take the 14-year-old to the place of his greatest victory — the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
“Denman loves being back at Cheltenham,” she told H&H. “There is nothing like the atmosphere of the Festival. He was keen!
“It was lovely for him to see his old stablemates Kauto Star and Big Buck’s again too.”
She added: “It was great to see his relation Polly Peachum [who is out of Denman’s full sister, Miss Denman] running so well in the mares’ race as well.”
The ex-racehorses paraded in the paddock at 12.30pm, before galloping in front of the stands before the first race.
Kauto Star (pictured below) was also on show under event rider Laura Collett, who tweeted: “What an epic day at the Cheltenham Festival. I’m such a lucky girl to canter Kauto Star in front of the stands.”
Big Buck’s (pictured below) was recently taken on by Lucy Tucker, after he retired following last year’s World Hurdle. The gelding is settling into hunting well, and in December returned to Ditcheat with the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale with former stablemate Denman.
The Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) parades were introduced in 2008 by the charity to showcase the adaptability of racehorses when retrained for a second career. They are now an established part of the major jump racing festivals at Cheltenham and Aintree, as well as featuring at British Champions Day at Ascot in October.
“To have Gold Cup, Grand National and World Hurdle winners in the parade is fantastic and it was great for the Cheltenham racegoers to see so many old favourites,” said Di Arbuthnot of RoR.
Grand National hero Comply Or Die is now showing off his skills in dressage, Jack The Giant is a showing star — having won at Hickstead last summer — while popular grey Grands Crus has turned his hoof to showjumping.
Also strutting their stuff in the sunshine in the Gloucestershire parade ring were Sentry Duty, an ex-Nicky Henderson-trained Flat horse who is now hunting and Miko De Beauchene, winner of the 2007 Welsh National who now hunts with the North Cotswold, Ortolan, the joint RoR elite eventing champion ridden by Polly Stockton.