News Article

Fleet Express retired

03 / 02 / 2010 Article by: Editor
Fleert Express owners (L-R) Phillip Jones, Tandy Gill and Shane Hildebrand.
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ONE of Tasmania’s best and most popular pacers Fleet Express has been retired.

The curtain has fallen on the 10-year-old following his most recent outing in Hobart where he finished last in a field of nine.

Fleet Express was one of Tasmania’s best performed pacers in decades. He won 39 and placed 57 times from 148 starts for stakes of almost $350,000, most of which was earned in Tasmania.

He recorded his best mile rate of 1.58 in winning the Toreace Stakes at Elwick two years ago.

The gelding won many feature races including two Easter Cups, St Leger, Danbury Park Cup, Governor’s Cup, Cannonball Charge, Show Cup and Sir James Plimsoll Memorial.

He had four campaigns in Victoria that netted his connections $15,250 derived from one win at MooneeValley and seven minor placings.

Fleet Express was purchased for only $3000 by a syndicate comprising Tandy Gill, Phillip Jones, Shane Hildebrand and Glenn Butterworth.

Brighton trainer Eric Jacobson located the horse that was a reject from the Noel Alexander-Jayne Davies stable in Victoria.

The gelded son of Silent Spring notched two minor placings before showing the form that would earmark him as a star in the making.

“He won a heat and final of the Eric Reece Memorial at the old Showground track and that’s when we thought he might be a horse worth having,” said part-owner Gill.

After the Reece Memorial win trainer Jacobson declared Fleet Express had the potential to be a star, evidenced by his victory in the St Leger in Launceston at the end of his three-year-old campaign.

“His win in the St Leger was brilliant because he beat a really good field with authority so I was very confident he would go on and be competitive at the top level and he proved me right,” Jacobson said.

Multiple premiership-winning reinsman Ricky Duggan had a great association with Fleet Express, partnering the gelding in all but 20 of his outings and shared in 37 of his wins.

“Fleet will be remembered by me as a horse that always gave his all and I might never drive another horse that is so honest,” Duggan said.

Fleet Express’s form waned late last year so it was decided to give the gelding a change of environment so he was moved to Christian Salter’s Brighton stable.

The move seemed to work as he won two in succession for Salter but his form soon tapered off.

“We didn’t want the horse to be running around and not be competitive because he has given his all every time he’s raced and it would have been unfair to see him running down the track on a regular basis,” Gill said.

“We want him to leave racing with some dignity because he deserves it,” she said.

When asked if she would miss watching Fleet Express race, Gill found it difficult to hold back the tears.

“This horse has been a big part of our lives and it is quite sad that we won’t see him race again.”

“It’s not all about the prizemoney either because when you have a horse as good as him you get quite attached to them and Fleet is a real character,” she said.

Fleet Express is likely to spend his remaining years in retirement at Gill and Shane Hildebrand’s property at Pontville.