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Buckingham's life dedicated to racing

28 June 2021

aaa.jpgBy Jordan Gerrans

Mareeba’s Kellie Buckingham is so committed to the Queensland Off-The-Track program that she will look forward to racehorse’s retirement long before their final race.

Buckingham, who has been around horses for her entire life, wears many a hat within the racing industry in the Sunshine State.

The mother of two rides track work for her husband, FNQ trainer Alex Malliff, works as the clerk of the course at several North Queensland clubs, is involved in equestrian and  show jumping as well as rehoming retired racehorses.

Buckingham has worked with upwards of 50 ex-racehorses following on from their careers on the track.

One of those is gelding Ramsden Street, who Malliff trained, and was certainly no champion.

But the son of Street Sense was better than many in his 67-start career, winning four races and running seven other minor placings.

And, even well before Ramsden Street’s last preparation, Buckingham was already dreaming of getting him into his second lease on life.

“When Alex spoke to me about buying him, I was really excited about his retirement, that is why I was happy for him to buy him,” Buckingham said with a smile.

aaaaaa.jpg“I thought we could have some fun with him when he did eventually retire.

“It took 12 months or so, I had to wait around for him as Alex was racing him, but he has been a ripper since he has finished racing.

“He has come through and I am jumping him up to a metre now, maybe more, but I will give him a season and he can jump some nice courses next year.”

Trainer Malliff, who prepared bush champion Paniagua to his stunning run of form in 2020, is often surprised by the number of former racehorses he will see at a jumping event around North Queensland.

“It is amazing actually, it is really great, we will often come to a clinic or a competition day and I will recognise a horse and you quickly remember who they are and where they raced,” Malliff said.

“They look terrific, jumping around courses here, it is a nice trip down memory lane.

“They are all well looked after.”

The QOTT Program was established in 2020 and supports the high-quality first transition for standardbreds and thoroughbreds from racing or breeding activities.


Alex Malliff Next Racing


Buckingham was never not going to be involved in horses as her grandfather and uncle were both trainers, her parents were both involved with the industry, along with an aunty as a jockey.

She rode track work from as early as 15 years of age and has done for much of her life, including on some classy gallopers such as Captain Sonador and Paniagua, among others.

“As soon as I was old enough, I got my licence,” she recalled.

“I had no choice (laughs), I was never not going to be involved in racehorses.

“Once there is one member of your family in it, it is hard not to be involved.”

While winning races and prize money is often the focus of the thoroughbred racing industry, Malliff says most that are involved are horse lovers at heart and take pride in being able to find their former gallopers suitable homes following their days at the track.

“Everybody in racing loves horses, they are the number one thing we think of every morning we wake up because it is where we are heading,” Malliff said.

“When they finish their racing lives, whether it is here at the equestrian or the rodeo or the polocrosse, you love to see the old racehorses and go give them a pat.

“I could not be prouder of Kellie and what she does.

“That is at the track with me or here, or the Off-The-Track horses, or any horse, she is a remarkable horsewoman and I am very proud of her.”

Buckingham and Ramsden Street recently took part in a David Finch showjumping Clinic at Mareeba.

Experienced Equestrian coach Finch says Buckingham’s work with OTT gallopers is critical.

“Kellie has started a lot of Off-The-Track horses and has campaigned them right through and gone up to high levels in our sport,” Finch said.

“Off-The-Track horses are important.

“It is wonderful to see all these wonderful old thoroughbreds doing so well in the sport.”

At jumping clinics in the north of the Sunshine State, Buckingham estimates that at times there is as many as half of the horses who are OTT.

And, that is the same type of scenario with polocrosse, eventing, showjumping, dressage, and barrel racing.

“They are very well used in the showjumping industry,” she said.

“It has always been very thoroughbred oriented in the jumping world.

“It is so important, the Off-The-Track program, and they are a very versatile breed, there is not much you cannot do with a thoroughbred.

“I think Off-The-Track as a program is great.”

Click here to learn more about the Queensland Off-The-Track Program.