sport

McCain salutes Peddlers Cross

Donald McCain has taken the tough decision to retire his 2011 Champion Hurdle runner-up Peddlers Cross.

Winner of the Neptune Investment Management Noviices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival 12 months earlier, McCain repeatedly claimed he may never train another as good.

He certainly went out on his sword in the Champion Hurdle three years ago, making Hurricane Fly pull out all the stops, having won the Fighting Fifth Hurdle that season.

The following campaign he was sent novice chasing and after two facile wins in the north he travelled to Kempton for the Wayward Lad Novices' Chase but was put firmly in his place by Sprinter Sacre.

He was a well-beaten favourite in the Jewson Novices' Chase at Cheltenham later that year and did not reappear until a jumpers' bumper at Kempton the following January where he shaped well to be second.

The following month he won a conditions race at Musselburgh at long odds-on, but back at Cheltenham he was unplaced behind Solwhit in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle. He failed to make the track last season.

McCain tweeted: "After a lot of thought we have decided to retire Peddlers Cross, the best horse I may ever train. Thank you #peddlers."

Jason Maguire said that he feels "blessed" to have been associated with a horse as good as Peddlers Cross.

One of the first horses to really put Maguire and his boss Donald McCain on the map at the big Festivals, Peddlers Cross won the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle 12 months earlier.

After what was to ultimately be a disappointing spell over fences he returned to hurdles but the old spark appeared to be lacking and McCain and owner Tim Leslie decided the time was right to call time on his career.

"I'm sad to see him retired but on the other hand it's pleasing to know that's he's fit and healthy," said Maguire.

"Tim and Donald have taken a very sensible decision. They could have raced on with him but there's no point in making him run when you know he's not quite as good as he was.

"For us, he's been a fantastic horse to be involved with.

"He was one of Tim's first horses, he won a Fighting Fifth, the Neptune at Cheltenham and was second in the Champion Hurdle. He's done so much for us and it's been a blessing to have been associated with him.

"He's probably never been the same since the Champion Hurdle. He gave his absolute all that day.

"Ever since his first win in a bumper when he pulled like a train the while way and still won easy we knew he was special. It is very rare for a horse to pull like he did that day and still win."

The Tim Leslie-owned gelding won 10 of his 16 career starts, earning just short of 300,000 in win and place prize-money.