Selkirk racehorse Captain Redbeard gives up his stripes and is set for the quiet life

It’s official – the Captain has been demobbed.

Sam, left and Stuart Coltherd, with Captain Redbeard (picture by John Smail)
Sam, left and Stuart Coltherd, with Captain Redbeard (picture by John Smail)

Borders stable boss and horse trainer Stuart Coltherd has taken the decision to retire Captain Redbeard, one of the best known racers on the Borders circuit, after he made a long but latterly promising recovery from injury.

While he’s been a major talent, the Captain is set to take things a little more quietly in general, possibly in more private surroundings.

National Hunt handler Stuart, of Clarilawmuir, near Selkirk, tweeted a warm tribute to the 12-year-old chestnut gelding, who competed in back-to-back Grand Nationals and appeared at the Cheltenham Festival, as well as recording numerous fine performances and wins at prestigious meetings on either side of the border.

It was 19 months ago that Captain Redbeard pulled up in a race at Newcastle with a tendon injury, of the kind which can commonly affect racehorses and often spells at least a year on the sidelines for treatment and the recovery process.

Stuart said at the time the horse had given the family some excellent days and some first-class runs, so he would have no problem accepting that the Captain might have to retire, should the medical experts advise it.

However, after his lengthy spell on the sidelines, it was hinted back in March this year that there may be a route back for the Captain to general race action.

He was reportedly gambolling about in the fields and enjoying himself in the winter sunshine, so a decision was put on hold to see how he fared.

Stuart said at the time there was a possible chance he might return to racing but it wasn’t definite: “We will hopefully start riding him in the next two or three weeks and see how he’s going after that,” he said. “We’ll see where he takes us and how he stands up to everything.”

However, this week, it was announced that Captain Redbeard would not be under starters’ orders again – instead, he’d be taking life a little more easily.

“We have taken the decision to retire Captain Redbeard from racing and he will now live out the rest of his days with us at the yard,” tweeted Stuart.

"At the moment, he is currently babysitting the youngsters as they start their road work and eating lots of grass and carrots.

"He had given us everything and more. Who’d have thought that, when he arrived, he would take us to the Grand National? He has run in some good races, given it his all and provided us with some amazing days out. He’s an absolute legend.”

Captain Redbeard was piloted regularly – including his two Grand National appearances – by Stuart’s son Sam, who also wished him a happy retirement and tweeted: “He has been a dream horse for me to ride and for everyone at home. Had some amazing days on him and made great memories.”

In the 2018 Grand National, Sam was unseated by Captain Redbeard at the seventh fence, the Foinavon. But, 12 months later, he ran an excellent race at Aintree and enjoyed the prestige of completing the course, coming 16th. Also finishing the course that year was Borders-owned One For Arthur, the winner in 2017, who has also since retired.