Flashmans Papers had fallen so far from his glory days running at Royal Ascot that he was now prepping to run for a $3,500 tag at Beulah Park. But it was close to Christmas and Clarence the Angel must have been looking out for him.
For, before the impressively built stallion set foot on Beulah Park, a trio of Thoroughbred advocates worked quickly and efficiently to negotiate with racetrack personnel and the racehorse’s last owner to retire the deserving animal.
“The fact that this horse was born in Great Britain and is the son of one of the most famous stallions over there, and now was running at Beulah, it’s like, come one, he didn’t belong there,” says Gail Hirt, founder of Thoroughbred retirement organization Beyond the Roses.
Working skillfully with California-based Thoroughbred advocate Deb Jones, who publicized Flashmans situation on Facebook and made countless phone calls to secure him a future home, and with Texas businessman John Murrell, who paid $4,500 to purchase the animal before he raced again, Flashmans’ destiny was turned on a dime.
“It was all over in about a day and a half,” Hirt says.
Sire: Exceed and Excel
Foal date: March 4, 2006
Earnings: $303,835Flashmans was scooped up and delivered to racehorse owner Jim Rhodes, who runs Equine Rescue of Aiken, a horseman who says he believed Flashman papers had come to the end of his racing career and was due an opportunity to be repurposed.
“He’s an athlete, but he was being run to the ground,” says Rhodes, admitting he was bracing to meet an ornery animal when he unlatched the door of the horse trailer that delivered the eight-year-old stallion.
“I didn’t know what to expect. These longtime racehorses can be very standoffish and high octane,” he says. “So, erring on the side of caution, I put a lip chain on him to lead him off the trailer, and then I realized it was completely unnecessary—this was one of the sweetest horses I’ve ever met. He’s so people orientated you can do anything with him with just a halter and a lead rope.”
Weeks after he arrived, he was gelded in the operating room of Performance Equine Vets of Aiken, free of charge, and shortly thereafter, he was impressing the heck out of three-day-eventer Michelle Donlick of Avolo Farm.
“I met him online the way so many other people did, following his story on Facebook, and he just has this presence,” Donlick says, adding that she called Rhodes and arranged to meet the animal.
“He was just as attractive in person as he was in his pictures, and his attitude was very pleasant,” she says. “I took him to the round pen to do some work with him. He’s a bit of an introvert and wasn’t too sure what I wanted, but within a half an hour, he was really paying attention to me, and moving off the pressure on the ground.”
Her plan is to move Flashmans to her farm as soon as weather permits, and begin to train him in natural horsemanship and hopefully get him to the point where he can be ridden without any tack.
In the meantime, as Flashmans awaits his future career, he is basking in the admiration and attention at Rhode’s farm.
“This horse is amazing! I’ve had a lot of horses come through my farm, and he’s probably one of my favorites,” Rhodes says.