Tim Easterby salutes the phenomenal McGonagall
11:01am Friday 27th June 2014 in Sport
Hamish McGonagall ridden by David Allan (left) wins the sportingbet.com Sprint during the Spring Meeting at York Racecourse, York. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 22, 2010. Photo credit should read: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire. (7443423)
HE went hoof to hoof with the best sprinters in the world - but nowhere was Hamish McGonagall more at home than dashing down the Knavesmire straight.
The nine-year-old, who was retired by trainer Tim Easterby last week, was a ten race winner for the Great Habton handler, amassing more than £419,000 in prize money in a 59 contest career.
"He has been an absolute superstar for us in recent years, being very consistent at the highest level of racing throughout his career," the master of Habton Grange said on his website.
It took time for the penny to drop. Hamish McGonagall didn't break his maiden until his sixth race - a maiden at Musselburgh - but it was York where he really shone and where he enjoyed his biggest success.
So it was perhaps fitting that his racing life finished at his favourite track - valiantly chasing down Jwala last August to finish a brave fourth in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival.
In all, he won four times at York, the biggest of those being the last when he beat Pabusar by a length and a half in the Listed John Smith's City Walls Stakes two years ago.
Three other handicaps fell his way in the Minster city for a horse that could never take the easy route to victory.
"What was more impressive was the fact that he always did it the hard way, from the front," added Easterby. "He was very consistent and finished in the first four a total of 40 times from those 59 runs. An absolute warrior, with the heart of a lion, and as tough as they come."
That meant taking on the very best in the sprinting division and Hamish McGonagall always embraced the challenge. In the Nunthorpe, he was so close, finishing second to Margot Did and third to Ortensia in successive years.
Anotherr tilt at York's great Group 1 dash was being primed again this term but Easterby said: "Although he still loves his racing as much as ever, his body is telling us it is time to retire him.
"Hamish McGonagall absolutely loved York, Musselburgh and Longchamp and had a huge following wherever he went. It is only fitting that he should end his career at York, a course that was very special to him.
"What a great servant to us and his owners he has been over the years."
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