Second retirement for former racehorse Beware Chalk Pit - and a celebratory final show ring victory
The retired racehorse Beware Chalk Pit, who was in training with East Kennett trainer Jonathan Geake from 2009 to 2015, was judged SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse Champion at the Horse of the Year Show (4 October) - a crowning achievement to mark his second retirement.
Owned by Marlborough resident Mrs Ann Leftley, the 13-year-old gelding Beware Chalk Pit - known as both Pit and Pete - has been in Essex with Justine Armstrong-Small and ridden in show competitions by Justine and by Rebecca Court under the auspices of the charity Retraining of Racehorses (RoR). He has had a stellar second career winning many prizes.
Following his Horse of the Year Show victory, he has been retired from the show ring and is coming back to Marlborough as a hack for Jonathan Geake's daughter.
Mrs Leftley has owned Pit for ten years - since he was three. He made 21 starts under rules, won two chases and £9,582 in prize money. He last raced at Plumpton in January 2015 - when he was pulled up before the finish.
He has spent the last three years showing with the RoR in former racehorse and riding horse classes. At the RoR's annual championships at Aintree in August he won in three major classes: the RoR Tattersalls Special, the In Hand Championship and Goffs Graduates championship.
Mrs Leftley and her late husband, Peter, have owned several racehorses over the years. When Peter, who was a doctor, died in 2013 she moved from Romsey to Marlborough. She now has Fidelity and the 8-year-old Micquus in training with Jonathan Geake - they’ve spent the summer out to grass and are now being prepared for the jump season.
Micquus last ran at Fontwell in March - ridden by Conor Shoemark and coming fourth in a 2mile 3 furlong Handicap Chase.
Fidelity - who has been marlboroughequestrian.news’ Horse in the Spotlight - came second in two jump races last season. Mrs Leftley still owns Fidelity's dam, Sir Kyffin's Folly. Fidelity is her second of four foals and she is now pregnant again.
Other horses owned by the Leftleys and trained by Toby Balding, Seamus Mullins and Jonathan Geake include: Supreme Tadgh - known as Tom - who was bought in 2005 after a successful point-to-point career inIreland and won races at Taunton and Uttoxeter.
Ballyman who last raced in April 2014, is now sixteen and involved in team chasing. Abbey Dore who ran in 21 races and won four chases in the 2010 and 2011 seasons and was retired with tendon problems. And Changiz - known as Foxy - who was foaled in 2003, started on the flat then went over hurdles and ran seventeen times, but never won a race.
Mrs Leftley still enjoys a day at the races: "While my husband was alive - he was a doctor - we could never get away to go racing. Doctors worked all hours in those days." Her favourite courses are Plumpton (where Beware Chalk Pit was a well-known entrant - starting thirteen races there), Fontwell, Warwick, Taunton - "and, of course, Newbury."
In our earlier report, you can read more about Beware Chalk Pit and the strange story of the illustrious horse whose name he bears.