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  • Provincial Racing NSW


SHE is 25 years of age, and her “mate” is four years younger at 21.

Together they are part – and a very important part at that - of a brood of retired racehorses Wyong trainer Kristen Buchanan, with the help of partner Peter Hagger and her 10-year-old daughter Mackenzie, is looking after with tender loving care.

These two “seniors” are pretty special indeed.

Tingling Sensation, the 25-year-old mare, was Buchanan’s first ever winner in Western Australia back in 2005, whilst the 21-year-old gelding Strong Gain was her breakthrough Sydney winner in 2010 after resuming her training career when she moved back to New South Wales.

At a time when the welfare of retired racehorses has made headlines for all the wrong reasons, this is a story to warm the hearts of not only thoroughbred enthusiasts, but animal lovers in general.

Well-named Tingling Sensation (her dam was Pins and Needles), bought at a sale by Buchanan’s mother on her behalf for only $400, provided the trainer with the first of her 273 winners to date when successful in a Bunbury Maiden (1400m) in April 2005.

She had taken out her licence only a few months earlier, and later that year in November also clinched her first metropolitan winner with the mare at Ascot.

Strong Gain, a son of Testa Rossa, began his career in Hong Kong and won three races at Sha Tin in 2006.

He went amiss and was going to be put down, but was saved by Buchanan’s employer Suman Hedge of Iskander Racing, for whom she was working then as a marketing and bloodstock assistant.

Determined to make a success of her training venture, she had moved back east and was based in Sydney, striving to accumulate her business acumen.

Buchanan began training again, got Strong Gain going after being off the scene for 18 months, then won races with him at Cessnock in 2009 and her home base at Wyong in 2010 before winning her first Sydney race with him at Canterbury in November that year.

“These two horses mean so much, and have a good home with me for the rest of their lives,” Buchanan said.

“My mother had a property and looked after Tingling Sensation for a while after we retired her as I was working in Sydney.

“Eventually, I was able to get her trucked across from WA and she had a couple of foals.

“Tingling Sensation is hale and hearty and even though she is now 25, I think she will be with us for a while yet.

“Strong Gain is a cranky old bugger, but also being well looked after.”

Whilst the pair hold a special place in Buchanan’s heart, they are not the only ones enjoying being cared for in the best possible manner.

She also has her 2020 South Grafton Cup winner Jazzland, who at nine years is a “pup” compared with his older “stablemates”.

In fact, Buchanan has a stable full of retirees at her property away from the track.

“I’ve got another 10 including six expatriates from Hong Kong,” she said.

“I am re-educating them and eventually we will find good homes for them.

“Looking after retired racehorses is a matter which the industry needs to continue to focus strongly on, and definitely something which is very important to me.

“It’s a labour of love with such beautiful animals.

“But I might need a Go Fund Me farm,” she added, tongue in cheek!

*Story John Curtis, September 12, 2023 - Pics supplied*

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