An emotional Charles Smith paid tribute to General Tufto after bringing the curtain down on the gelding’s racing career following a creditable effort on his 218th racecourse start.
Running at his beloved Southwell, the 13-year-old – who turns 14 on January 1 – put in his best work at the business end to finish seventh after being outpaced early stages in division two of the one-mile sunracing.co.uk Handicap.
“He ran well and I’d rather him finish on a good note rather than trailing out the back,” the Lincolnshire trainer said.
“If he had won us 10 Group races it couldn’t mean more for us. The grandchildren – everybody loves him. He’s a special horse.
“I bought him for jumping originally. That was the idea and he didn’t want to have a cut over the hurdles and he just loves it here. We’re not gambling people. No one would ever know the pleasure that horse has given us.
“We paid just hundreds for him and he cost 200,000 as a yearling.”
Lincolnshire-based Smith said his pride and joy will have plenty to keep him busy in his retirement.
He told At The Races: “It’s because he’s a character, that makes it even more special. It’s wonderful he will come back here for the opening of the floodlights and he will love it.
“He won’t retire. He won’t be going out in the paddock, he wants to be doing things all the time, so I’ll probably take him out with the bloodhounds on a Sunday every fortnight.
“He’ll just do exactly what he wants to do. It’s been very special and I’m very honoured to have had him.”
His rider, Noel Garbutt, said: “He ran his usual race. He finished trying and he’s gone out on a high. We’re all happy and a bit emotional. That’s how he normally runs. He likes doing it the hard way.
“My Twitter feed was going mad just because it was going to be his last run. It just shows how much support the horse has.”
Fifteen of General Tufto’s 17 victories came at Southwell, with the other two at Beverley. He was also placed 50 times and earned £73,000 in prize-money.