National Hunt heroes Big Buck’s, Denman and Long Run are among the equine stars that will be parading at the Cheltenham Festival on the opening day (Tuesday, 14 March).
This year’s Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) parade — sponsored by the Peter O’Sullevan Trust — will include eight former Festival winners and showcases the variety of opportunities available to racehorses once they retire from their career on the track.
Joining the racing legends will also be Balthazar King and The Giant Bolster. The latter is ridden by H&H blogger Lucy Bridgwater — wife of The Giant Bolster’s former trainer David. The 12-year-old (pictured, below with Lucy) made the frame in three consecutive runnings of the Cheltenham Gold Cup and was retired at the end of 2016.
Three months into his retraining, the gelding is already showing promise.
“The prospect of being in the RoR parade at the Festival is both exciting and a little nerve-racking,” said Lucy. “As is often the way when retraining a racehorse, there are good days and bad days. One day I was so thrilled with ‘Sammy’, he was really listening and was consistently cantering 20-metre circles on each rein but the next day he spent the whole time squealing and bucking and not listening.
“Recently, we did our first RoR dressage clinic and he was really good, he tried so hard. On the way home, I have to admit, I felt quite choked up. Sammy gave so much to all of us during his racing career and he is still being a star now — he really is the horse that keeps on giving. I think he knows how loved he is.”
Having bounced back from a potentially life-threatening injury, Balthazar King — winner of the 2014 Cross Country Chase — will also be lining up for the parade. The gelding fractured four ribs and punctured a lung in a fall during the Grand National (11 April 2015), but made a miraculous comeback to the racecourse before being retired last year.
He has since enjoyed hunting with Izzi Beckett, wife of trainer Ralph.
“Balthazar King has adapted really well to his new life and new routine. He has hunted mainly with the Tedworth Hunt, as well as neighbouring packs, and he has taken to it like a natural. He loves watching hounds work and he has impeccable manners. Needless to say his jumping is outstanding,” said Izzi.
“Hunting will be his number one job from now on, however, the plan is to try our hand at some RoR show classes this spring and summer.”
Read the full list of ex-racehorses on parade below:
BALTHAZAR KING (Hunting) – ridden by Izzi Beckett
13-year-old by King’s Theatre, formerly trained by Philip Hobbs
BEWARE CHALK PIT (Showing) – ridden by Rebecca Court
13-year-old by Anshan, formerly trained by Jonathan Geake
BIG BUCK’S (Hunting) – ridden by Lucy Tucker
14-year-old by Cadoudal, formerly trained by Paul Nicholls
DENMAN (Team Chasing/Hunting) – led up by Charlotte Alexander
17-year-old by Presenting, formerly trained by Paul Nicholls
FINIAN’S RAINBOW (Hunting) – ridden by Becky Blandford
14-year-old by Tiraaz, formerly trained by Nicky Henderson
FORPADYDEPLASTERER (Showing and Hunting) – ridden by Joanne Quirke
15-year-old by Moscow Society, formerly trained by Thomas Cooper
LONG RUN (Hacking and Hunting) – ridden by Becky Young
12-year-old by Cadoudal, formerly trained by Nicky Henderson
MIDNIGHT CHASE (Hunting and Eventing) – ridden by Sally Hayward
15-year-old by Midnight Legend, formerly trained by Neil Mulholland
PENZANCE (Dressage and Hunter trialling) – ridden by Alex Evans
16-year-old by Pennecamp, formerly trained by Alan King
PUNJABI (Dressage and Hunting) – ridden by Rachael Kempster
14-year-old by Komaite, formerly trained by Nicky Henderson and David Pipe
RUBI LIGHT (Showing) – ridden by Kirsteen Reid
12-year-old by Network, formerly trained by Robbie Hennessy
THE GIANT BOLSTER (Dressage) – ridden by Lucy Bridgwater
12-year-old by Black Sam Bellamy, formerly trained by David Bridgwater
The Cheltenham Festival runs from 14-17 March. Read Horse & Hound’s full report from the Festival in the 23 March issue of the magazine, plus read daily round-ups online.