Black Jack Ketchum Bids Farewell to Racing
As the Aintree Grand National kicks off there will be one contender missing from the cards, Black Jack Ketchum. Unlike his outlaw cowboy namesake, Thomas “Black Jack” Ketchum, he does not meet his untimely demise by way of execution but through retirement from a career as a hurdler. The decision to retire this magnificent horse was made this week, as both trainer and owners feel that Black Jack Ketchum has tried to tell them that his heart is not in racing anymore.
His fame in the world of racing is compared to that of Bonnie and Clyde or Black Bart. Perhaps his story can make quite a good western, unlike that one of his cowboy namesake, which is very tragic and gruesome. You have to admit that Black Jack Ketchum is an extremely memorable name! The decision to retire this magnificent horse was made this week, as both trainers and owners feel that Black Jack Ketchum has tried to tell them that his heart is not in racing anymore. After all, they are the only people close enough to him, and so it’s easy for them to observe and understand his feelings, whether he is hurting, happy, sad, or even hungry.
Black Jack Ketchum was born on 7 May 1999 and is owned by Gay and Derrick Smith. Lucky as a five-time lottery winner, Black Jack Ketchum found himself in a family of huge horse race fans. He lived his whole life, before starting his career, preparing for his debut. Black Jack Ketchum started his career in spectacular form, being unbeaten in his first eight starts. These winnings earned him a lot of fans and made his name, Black Jack Ketchum, stick in their tongues. Even his opponents could not help but sing his name. Yes, that’s how spectacular Black Jack Ketchum was when he started.
Since it’s traditional that every horse gets trainers apart from the owners, Black Jack Ketchum had Jonjo O’Neill and jockey, Tony McCoy as his professional trainers. These are the special people who have always been there for Black Jack Ketchum even after a terrible loss. They have embraced him in both his best and his worst. Trainer Jonjo O’Neill and jockey, Tony McCoy, have enjoyed the best he has had to offer, and even though both men are saddened by his departure, they are comforted by the knowledge that he will be living out the rest of his days in the tranquil surroundings of the Smith’s farm in Barbados.
After winning at the 2006 Cheltenham Festival, it seemed that the future for Black Jack Ketchum was lined with success. His trainers were so happy to reap their efforts once again. His fans were singing his name after the big win. He won his race by a staggering nine lengths, and everyone hoped that he would grow stronger in each upcoming racing event. His owners, trainers, and fans had great hopes in him based on his past performances back then. Everyone was certain enough that Black Jack Ketchum would rule the world of racing since he was always coming out undefeated.
Unfortunately, the 2007 horse racing season was an extremely disappointing time in his career, taking home only one win at the John Smith’s Hurdle held at Wetherby. The truth is that the disappointment was even more extreme to his owners, trainers, and fans. This kind of reality was too painful for them. Their high hopes for Black Jack Ketchum were not high anymore. They had enjoyed the rise, and now they had to bear the painful fall of their star performer. At the start of 2008, it was discovered that Black Jack Ketchum had suffered a minor back injury, and therefore his owners and trainers had to spend a lot of time observing him ensure his wellbeing. He only returned to horse racing again in March after they were certain that he was doing well.
While watching his performances over the last year, the Smiths and O’Neill had to face the reality that their star performer had lost his enthusiasm for racing. The spark that had earned him the descriptions of being ‘like a machine’ had gone. After all, everything that has a beginning has an end. And Black Jack Ketchum’s end had come. As painful as it was, Black Jack Ketchum was not the same anymore. After the hard work and superb wins that he has given Gay and Derrick Smith in the past, they decided to give him a dignified and respectful exit from his horse racing career. Anyway, this is by far the best gift a horse can ever receive from its owners. Wanting him to be remembered for the extraordinary horse that he is, they have readied his place on their farm where he will spend the rest of his life.
Fans and loyal supporters had hoped he would make a comeback at the Aintree Grand National this year, where he has won before, but the breathtaking hurdler will now be bringing joy to the Smith family instead of the spectators. His name will reign forever as his fans will always remember him for his spectacular performances. His story is history that will be read by many now and many more to come. He is a horse that will be fondly remembered in the horse racing industry, and there will never be another horse that could ever replace the drive, the courage, and the determination that he showed during his glory days. Black Jack Ketchum will always be a significant name in the world of horse racing.