Record-breaker: all-weather ace Stand Guard retires at the age of 14
John Butler-trained veteran has won 28 times on artificial surface
Trainer John Butler spoke on Thursday of his great pride in Stand Guard, the winner of a record 28 of his 84 starts on the all-weather, who has been retired at the age of 14.
Stand Guard ran what turned out to be his final race at Kempton on Tuesday, when he faded to eighth after looking a real danger to add to his impressive total.
The well-bred son of Danehill will stay at Butler's base at Brickfields Stud near Newmarket and will be shown regularly by his owner, Alice Haynes.
"We were happy with him and he'd done a nice piece of work at Kempton the week before," said Butler on Thursday. "We thought we had him pretty right and Liam [Keniry] was happy with him in the race and moved into a nice challenging position.
"We were disappointed with the way he didn’t finish his race the way he usually does, and clearly there's an issue somewhere. We’re a little bit gutted but we’re not going to fix it. He doesn’t deserve that, to be put under the knife at this stage of his life. Retire him and he can have a happy life."
Record-holder has a big heart
Stand Guard enjoyed a purple patch during his first full winter campaign under the care of Butler, winning nine times in the space of 129 days between December 2012 and the following April.
He also made the headlines in late 2016 when trading blows with Southwell specialist La Estrella as the winningmost horse in British all-weather racing history, securing his 28th success at Kempton last January. La Estrella retired on 27.
"We're very proud of him and he holds the all-weather record," said Butler. "It’ll take a fair horse to beat it. Conor Dore had a horse get to 25 or something last year but I think he's retired now.
"It takes a long time and it takes a very sound horse. A lot of work goes into a horse that sound and Stand Guard has a big heart. I’m convinced that, bar a little issue the other night, he'd have won that race. Liam said that well past halfway he was 100 per cent certain he was going to win."
Butler had hinted at retirement when Stand Guard went on a break in February 2017 but brought him back for another winter campaign last October.
Butler said: "We put a lot of work and effort into him this year to see if we could get him to win again and we're disappointed, but at the same time happy he’s sound.
"Last year he did a few shows for retired racehorses and he’ll do some more this year. We’ll keep his body in good shape and it makes a difference to those older horses. It’s like an old person, the more active they are the longer they live."
Senior service: Stand Guard in numbers
84 all-weather starts
4 races on turf (most recent at York in September 2011)
96 Peak Racing Post Rating (November 2009)
11 wins at Wolverhampton (Kempton 7, Southwell 6, Lingfield 4)
1 runs for Sir Michael Stoute