David Hayes has seen numerous UK-bred horses come to Australia to race with varying degrees of success.
Some were good enough to win Melbourne Cups and Cox Plates while others, for varying reasons, could barely break even time upon arriving in this country.
Then, there’s Redkirk Warrior.
“I don’t think I’ve known a horse quite like him,’’ Hayes said on Monday of his freshly retired northern hemisphere eight-year-old, who in a 12-month period in Australia, put together three blistering performances in Melbourne’s best autumn sprints.
“He won his debut at 2000 metres and his future was as a middle distance horse then came here to win a Lightning and two Newmarkets – the first of which was first-up and that had never been done before,” Hayes said.
“I don’t think it will be ever done again. He was truly one of a kind.”
WATCH: Redkirk Warrior win the 2018 Newmarket Handicap
Hayes had already had discussions with Redkirk Warrior’s Hong Kong-based owners Edmund Lee and Jenny Tam about retirement for the horse before he went to the gates for an attempt at a record third Newmarket Handicap victory.
“We thought he’s done his job and, for me, he was starting to lighten off and showing a bit of age and he actually tweaked his tendon on Saturday.
“We’d made the decision before the race to retire him if he didn’t fire and Luke (Nolen) sat up on him and looked after him.”
In all, Redkirk Warrior had just 24 lifetime starts. But he packed plenty of action into those.
He had just 15 starts in Australia but three of them in Sydney and Hayes found he loathed racing clockwise.
In 12 starts in Melbourne he won three Group 1s.
Four years after leaving England unbeaten in two starts during 2014, Redkirk Warrior returned to the UK last year for tenth placings in both the Diamond Jubilee Stakes and July Cup.
He had five runs in Hong Kong – all at Sha Tin – where he won one race from five starts. He also experienced retirement for the first time at that point as his feet started to fall apart in his new surroundings.
WATCH: Redkirk Warrior win the 2017 Newmarket Handicap
He was sent to Hayes in Australia in a last-ditch hope of resurrecting him.
“The farrier did a great job,” Hayes said. “He had to reset his feet and once he got his feet right, there was no doubt he was a Group 1 horse.”
Redkirk Warrior came to Hayes late in his career so he never tried him beyond a sprinter’s trip, although just last month he was luckless when sixth in the Futurity Stakes when taken out to 1400 metres.
Unfortunately, that the last time he was competitive as the horse was eased out of the Newmarket into 21st place last Saturday.
“I think a very good horse at all distances but whatever you trained him for, he could do it,” Hayes said.
“But he had a career sprinting with us and his results were fabulous.”
Redkirk Warrior retires out to Livings Legends north of Melbourne in the coming weeks where racing fans can go and see up close the horse that defied his upbringing to become one of the world’s most potent sprinters.
“He’ll probably have a week or so to let down here at Lindsay Park where we can also say goodbye and give him a pat before he goes to Living Legends, where he’s certainly earned his spot,” Hayes said.