Martin’s Blog 6th January

A frustrating night at Kempton. We chose to switch Buckle Street to the flat after refusing to run twice over hurdles in a last ditch attempt to encourage him to run. Regular readers of this blog will know how hard we have tried with him and, also, that our top vets and physios are sure he isn’t in pain. He’s not a horse that ever stops at home either – he’s bonny when ridden and loves his work, loves schooling and galloping. He’s still only 5 years old (although all Thoroughbreds have a birthday on 1st Jan which means he’s officially 6) and has so much ability otherwise we’d have drawn stumps ages ago.

Despite looking happy in the Paddock, his coat shining under the Kempton evening lights and cantering down well with Poppy Bridgwater, who’d been in to put him through the stalls at home earlier in the week (where he’d gone straight in and jumped straight out!) the writing was on the wall as soon as he reached the Stalls. Despite the Stalls handlers trying their very best – and they were superb, trying everything they could – he’d made his mind up and it just goes to show that you can’t make these animals do anything they don’t want to do!

Although the BHA were happy for him to take his chance last night, I was going to report back to them tomorrow anyway. I will still do that , however I’ll confirm we have now retired him – for a reason we will never know he just doesn’t want to race. It was amazing how many people got in touch last night wanting to re-home him! We’d already got a few people in mind though and we have a lovely home planned with friends where he’ll be looked after so well and they will keep us posted about him too.

Buckle Street has been a pleasure to train (apart from the frustrations of the last few races obviously) and is such a favourite in the yard too so we’ll all be sad to see him go. He’s a horse that our family will never forget either giving us one of our very best days at York when he and Belinda won the Macmillan Ride of Their Lives race in June 2017. Even some of his owners still say that was one of the best days of their racing lives. A day we’ll never forget.

A lovely email from one of his owners this morning replying to the ‘retirement’ option:

“With a heavy heart I agree.  It has been the most amazing experience owning a racehorse.  He has taken me to places I never thought in my wildest dreams I would go and while I had hoped it would last longer I can only be grateful to him and team Keighley for all the joy he has brought into my life. I am really happy that he will be going somewhere where he can enjoy life and hopefully we can visit from time to time.  Chill out Buckle and be happy 🙂 “

Matravers in the following race burst a blood vessel and my night was to get worse still when a tyre in my car had a blow out when I’d not long left the course! As it was a tricky place the AA came out to sort it for me and fortunately I didn’t have to wait that long for them. Eventually I was home safely though, which is all that matters and, whilst it was a night I’d rather not repeat in a hurry, there are far worse things in life!