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Former Cleveland Bay Handicap champion embarks on new venture

7d28691b-035d-47ad-982f-99c6656f89e7.jpgBy Jordan Gerrans

As a big, strong, and quiet gelding, Cleveland Bay Handicap champion Grey Missile has settled in perfectly into his second lease on life following his racing career.

The stylish grey was always an eye-catcher wherever he raced around Queensland, from as far north as Cairns and all the way down to the Gold Coast.

The now seven-year-old gelding had his last of 49 career races starts in early October this year and has quickly jumped into his new role within the industry – as the clerk of the course at several FNQ tracks.

The aim is for the former Roy Chillemi-trained grey to make his debut on race day as the clerk of the course in the coming weeks after preparing for the job with respected horsewoman Kellie Buckingham since he called time on his racing career.

“When Roy and I first spoke about it, I thought it would be just a good story because so many people knew him as a great racehorse,” Buckingham said.

“I have had a few people mention to me how excited they are to see how he goes, people that have been involved with the horse over his career.

“He is a pretty cool character.”

As well as winning the premier North Queensland sprint race during his career, Grey Missile won at metropolitan level South East Queensland, as well as being as being placed on six other occasions in town, when he was trained by the Edmonds stable on the Gold Coast.

Perennial trainers premiership winner around the north, Chillemi is not shy about his thoughts on how his former galloper presents to the eye.

“He is a very attractive horse, he will have a home wherever he goes,” Chillemi said.

“He would be a standout compared to the other clerks of the course in terms of his looks, come Cairns Cup and Cairns Amateurs Cup time, everyone will be looking at him from the crowd.”

From Buckingham’s perspective to get the gelding to his first day at his new vocation, she needs to be sure he is mentally switched on to the requirements.

As Buckingham explains, Grey Missile needs to now understand that he is at the races to help other horses and not there to go around himself.

The Red Element gelding needs to have patience around the mounting yard and the track, having to stand and wait for long periods of time.

Grey Missile RETIRED 2021
Roy Chillemi Next Racing

DSC-3017.jpgBuckingham has long been a clerk of the course rider around FNQ, as well as riding track work, being involved in equestrian and show jumping as well as rehoming retired racehorses.

She notes that during his racing career, Grey Missile was rarely stirred up and always presented as though he was calm, leading her to believe he will be well-suited to his post-racing venture.

The winner of 10 career races for almost $400,000 in prize money has eased into life with Buckingham.

“He is going pretty good, he is lovely at home – he has settled in pretty quickly,” Buckingham said.

“I am hoping he just slots in.

“He is doing everything that tells me he will be fine as a clerk of the course, but you never quite know until you get them there to race day.

“It is slow and steady for these kinds of things, but I find the quicker you get them to race day, the quicker you find out if they are going to be able to do it properly.”

Buckingham is hoping to put a bit more weight on the gelding before he makes his debut in his second lease on life.

Grey Missile is likely to ease into the new job, just doing a race or two at each meeting before building into a full day at the track.

Racorza, a grey who was previously trained by Cairns’ Peter Rowe, is another former race horse who quickly transitioned from the track to a clerk of the course in FNQ, doing so in just three weeks following his last race start.

The mother of two noted she had come across several former race gallopers that were not suited to being in work but quickly thrived on their new role.

“Some of them are just meant to do it, they have the temperament for it straight away,” Buckingham said.

If Grey Missile does not make it as a clerk of the course, Chillemi has already lined up people to take him into the equestrian and show jumping world.

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