Side Glance – the end of one great career and the beginning of another

Jet-setting racehorse Side Glance, who has travelled the globe competing at the biggest racing festivals in the world and won the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes in Australia, has been retired from the sport.

Side Glance, a particular favourite of his owner Sheikh Fahad Al Thani and the winner of more than £1.7m in prize money, has been retired at the age of 8 by his dedicated team led by Andrew Balding. Andrew and his travelling head girl Leanne Masterton (crowned Employee of the Year at the 2014 Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff Awards 2014), have bid Side Glance a fond farewell as he begins his new life with Sarah Friend who runs a private yard in Oxfordshire.

Reflecting on Side Glance’s career, Andrew recalled two performances in Melbourne, Australia: "Winning the Mackinnon Stakes must rank as the highlight, but his fourth place in last year's Cox Plate, when he was beaten just half a length, was a brilliant effort. On the back of that we felt he had a great chance of winning the Mackinnon again, but he suffered a slight tweak, and was unable to run.

"He was so courageous, durable and versatile - he was third to Frankel over a mile in one of the strongest Queen Anne Stakes there has ever been, and went on to be top-class over ten furlongs. Horses like him, that can take you to the big occasion, are always nice to have - he has run in Hong Kong, Singapore, America, Canada, Australia, Dubai, and always went with a chance of winning. We'll miss him, because he was bred by my mother and has been here since he was a foal, but he's going to a good home."

Leanne agreed that the Mackinnon Stakes win was the highlight, saying: "It was amazing to win a Group 1 with a horse that deserved it so much. Jamie Spencer gave him a brilliant ride, the racecourse was packed and the atmosphere was unlike anything I've known.

"The locals gave him a great reception, and he even built up a following with the media and photographers who travelled on with him from Australia to Hong Kong. A lot of horses thrive on international travel, and he was one.

"Saying goodbye to him is very tough - in the last two and a half to three years I've spent more time with him than any human. This time last year I was in Monmouth [for the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes, in which he finished third] and it was my birthday, but I didn't know another soul, so I celebrated with him and a pizza!

"I won't lose touch with him, and will be going to see him armed with Polos, which he loves."

But this not the last we see of Side Glance. Sarah Friend has already begun to think of what’s next for the racehorse who in 2015 clocked up more air miles than any other British trained horse, and a second career in showing, through the Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) scheme, is on the cards.

Sarah said: "Taking in a horse like this is so rewarding. I like my horses to be all-rounders, so he will see a bit of everything and that way we'll see what he takes to. I think he has the potential for showing, because his conformation is correct, and in most RoR classes the horses are bay, and he will really stand out being black and stunning.”

So Side Glance may well go from one great career to another. There are currently over 10,500 horses registered with Retraining of Racehorses (British Horseracing’s official charity for the welfare of former racehorses) as active in other equine disciplines outside of racing, including Polo, Showing, Dressage and Eventing, as well as those horses happily engaged in hacking and exercising.