Belinda & Buckle are WINNERS!

What an incredible day we had on Saturday and both Belinda & I agreed it was one of the best days of our lives and I’m sure Freddie & Harry loved it as much. For Belinda to raise over £26,000 with help from all of you was amazing enough but to win at York on such a big day was the icing on the cake. Added to that she’d enjoyed ITV and RUK interviews during the day, Ollie & Irene Ryan had been guests of ITV (as generous winners of Ed Chamberlain’s prize for Belinda’s charity evening) and that was a pretty special inside view of the Opening Show and all that goes on to put an ITV Racing production on.

Paul Davis, part owner of Buckle Street and the person who so skilfully runs our Racing Club and Partnerships always summarises the races to all concerned and I’m not sure my description could top his so here it is, enjoy (it had Belinda & me in tears!):

Saturday June 17th 2017 – York – 1 mile 1 furlong, Good to Firm – Best Western Hotels & Macmillan Ride of their Lives

Just occasionally a day’s racing will come along that is guaranteed to live long in the memory and yesterday at York was one such day. When Belinda and Buckle Street passed the line in front the tension, excitement and anticipation leading to this moment erupted into a euphoric outpouring of joy and emotion for all those connected with horse, rider and the yard. Indeed, Jon has stated it was definitely his best day’s racing that he has ever had, and many of us feel the same.

Though Belinda had been aiming for this race for a very long time, the choice of her mount in the race wasn’t confirmed until Buckle Street came back into the yard in early May. This allowed enough time for Martin to prepare Buckle for the race; for Belinda and Buckle to develop a solid partnership on the gallops; and for Jon, Jack and I to start assembling the new partnership. At the start of yesterday’s racing we had 5 shares sold with all owners able to support Buckle apart from the Nelmes’ family (we hope you recover quickly, Ruth !). However, by the close of racing yesterday then the sixth and final share in Buckle had also been sold (welcome Irene and Oli!).

But it wasn’t just the owners of Buckle Street who were in attendance to support Belinda and The Buckmeister, as there were also numerous other owners, Racing Club members and yard supporters in attendance to support them in their quest – and not one of them will have regretted their long journey to the newly crowned Racecourse of the Year on one of the hottest days of the year.

Belinda’s day started with an appearance on The Opening Show with Oli and Irene in attendance having won the privilege to see behind the scenes on the show having been the highest bidders on the the extremely successful charity auction held at The Hollow Bottom last month. There were also appearances on Racing UK and other media commitments for Belinda to fulfil, but soon enough the clock ticked round to the time for Belinda to get changed into her racing colours and for The Buckmeister to be saddled up. Even before the 10 noble horsewomen and horsemen had been legged up each could rightly by acclaimed winners having collectively raised enough money to employ a Macmillan nurse for over two years with Belinda raising a whopping £26,000 alone – a truly wonderful effort for a charity so close to her heart.

In the parade ring, Buckle Street looked magnificent and took the preliminaries in his stride despite the searingly hot temperatures. After being legged up, Belinda and Buckle cantered steadily to the start of the appropriately named ‘race of their lives’. The plan was simple, go to the front, try to dictate matters from there, and stick to the inside rail if possible kicking for home early to exploit Buckle’s stamina since he was being opposed by some flat specialists some of whom were rated 10 pounds superior to him on the flat. And as the starter’s flag went down, Belinda and Buckle did exactly what had been instructed by taking up the early pace. However, two or three others also wanted to dictate matters and so, after a couple of furlongs, these went past Buckle which, in a moment of cool tactical judgement, Belinda allowed them to do remembering her coach Warren Marston’s wise instructions that some of the field may want to go too fast, so let them burn themselves out. So, for the next half a mile, Buckle was in 3rd or 4th place, about 5 lengths behind the clear leader. As the field swung into the straight, it looked for a moment that the other runners with their proven flat speed might sweep past Buckle and Belinda. But we needn’t have worried. Belinda kept Buckle wonderfully balanced and as the others began to make ground on her, she let out an inch of rein and begin to close in on the leader who was beginning to weaken. At the two furlong marker, Belinda and Buckle were disputing the lead with many of the field just one length behind her. Buckle’s stamina now began to come into play and, bit by bit, he edged ahead. As they passed the furlong marker, the Condicote combination had nosed in front and quickly went a length clear. Pushing him out with hands and heels, Buckle responded admirably and galloped all the way to the line winning the race comfortbly by 1 1/2 lengths.

And then, passing the line, a moment of pure theatrical magic. Belinda stood up in her irons and punched the air. It wasn’t showboating. It was the realisation of a goal achieved; of many months dieting and hard work all being worthwhile; and the knowledge that the dream had come true. It was the release of the pressure and responsibility that she had felt knowing that she wanted to do the very best for the newly formed partnership that now owned Buckle Street. And perhaps, most of all, it was for her mum Kathy and her Dad John, both of whom she sadly lost in 2010 following Kathy’s brave 18 year fight with cancer. It was magical, and the magic continued for the next hour in the winners’ enclosure and parade ring as the presentations were made, all 10 jockeys rightly congratulated and then followed by all competitors and their supporters celebrating the fantastic occasion as one huge extended family using several glasses of champagne generously provided by the race sponsors Best Western Hotels. Each and every jockey was a winner yesterday and it was a privilege to be there. (Thanks Paul)

Belinda & I cannot speak more highly of Anthea Morshead and her team at York Racecourse. No wonder they have just won the acclaimed prize ‘Racecourse of the Year’ as we were all quite simply treated regally and it was absolutely fabulous from start to finish.

We would also like to thank you all for your support along this six month journey Belinda’s been on and also your amazing messages of congratulations – it has almost been a full time job replying to them and we hope we haven’t missed anyone out. Yesterday was spent chilling out on a boat in York and generally being tourists for the day and we had lunch by the river in the aptly named ‘Winner Winner’ Restaurant!

A weekend to remember and we’ll be on cloud 9 for quite some time!