The curtain has come down on the golden racing career of a Westbury Stud warhorse.
Time has been called for Gold Medals, who was an amazingly versatile and durable performer and the rising 13-year-old was being prepared for a fifth consecutive crack at the Grand Annual Steeplechase when trainer Symon Wilde called a halt.
“He’s been an incredible horse and we were only ever going to go this year if he was flying. He just had a couple of soft tissue issues and we just ran out of time to get him fit,” Wilde said.
“Other than that, he is retiring in great order and it’s heart-warming to know that after 80-odds starts, he’s been a very special horse to our stable. I’ve been privileged to have had him.”
Gold Medals was purchased out of Westbury Stud’s draft at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale in 2011 by Wilde for $30,000 and the son of Elvstroem and the Encosta De Lago mare Lady Mulroy went on to win multiple times on the flat, over hurdles and the bigger fences.
He had not run since winning last year's Grand Annual at the expense of his arch-rival, fellow Kiwi-bred, Zed Em.
Gold Medals ran 12 times over the May Carnival, from winning his juvenile debut race in 2012 to contesting the Warrnambool Cup, hurdles and finally proving his toughness time and again in the 5500-metre jumping marathon.
He raced 82 times for 13 wins, 24 placings and banked more than $1.12 million during his remarkable career.
“We backed him when he had his first start as a two-year-old over 1000 metres at Warrnambool, we were pretty confident. You could never predict what was to follow – 10 years of enjoyment for everyone,” Wilde said.
“To start as a winner and go out as a winner is pretty fitting for a horse like him. He may not have the been the best horse ever, but as far as ownership goes and an advertisement for racing, I don’t think you could get better.
“He’s got an incredible nature and just like a pet, he came back year after year and endeared himself to everybody.”
Following his debut victory, Gold Medals placed at his third start in the Listed Hilton Stakes at Flemington during the Melbourne spring carnival.
He went on to win a further four starts on the flat, including a Terang Cup victory in which he defeated multiple Group 1 winner Puccini, before establishing himself as one of Australia’s leading jumpers.
“He will have a home with me forever, but because he’s got such a quite nature we are exploring a few options. He could be used to promote racing, there has been a lot of inquiries about him,” Wilde said.
“I have been contacted by clerks of the courses etc; he could do anything this horse. We will sit down after the May carnival and work out what we can do, I think he is too good to be sitting in a paddock.
“He’s been a once in a lifetime horse, I won’t ever get another one like him, I really won’t.
“He won as a two-year-old over 1000 metres and was stakes placed, won country cups, won in Melbourne, won hurdles and steeples and then as a 11-year-old won over 5500 metres in the Grand Annual, there isn’t much he hasn’t done.”