Buckles bounces back

Buckles made a successful comeback from a narrow escape from death at Ellerslie last month when he completed a notable couple of days for the Marshall sisters, Sally and Carol, at Matamata last Friday.

Last Thursday Carol Marshall celebrated an impressive maiden win of Dargio, a four-year-old son of Darci Brahma and her multiple Group One winner Giovana. Dargio, who is raced by a syndicate which includes Marshall, was having his third start and won by seven lengths over 1600 metres at Cranbourne in Victoria for trainer Mick Kent.

Dargio is unlikely to reach the same heights as Giovana, but he is considered a very promising staying type. Giovana’s wins included four Group Ones, beginning with the 2000 Queensland Oaks. She also won the 2001 Gr. 1 Whakanui Stud International Stakes at Te Rapa, the Gr.1 2002 Oaks Stud Classic Stakes at Ellerslie and the Gr.1 2002 Thorndon Mile at Trentham.

A day after Dargio’s breakthrough win, Carol Marshall was at Matamata as support for her sister Carol and she was as excited as her sibling when Buckles won the NZ 2000, a Rating 75 event, in the hands of Noel Harris.

The win was a perfect result for Harris, who had just the one ride on the day. A production crew for TV One’s Sunday programme was on hand filming for the television documentary and the producer couldn’t believe her luck when the win occurred.

It was an even bigger thrill for Sally Marshall, who bred, trains and owns Buckles, the horse who made the headlines at Ellerslie last month when he and rider Rogan Norvall crashed in the early stages of an event after hitting an exposed drainage manhole cover.

Buckles was lucky not to break a leg or his neck in the fall and Norvall was also lucky to escape with minor injuries.

“All he had after the fall was a bit of skin off his hock and chest when he did a forward roll after stepping in the hole,” said Marshall. “I had the chiropractor Rick Boyd go over him and he couldn’t find anything seriously wrong.”

Buckles returned to the racetrack at Te Awamutu on July 6 when ridden by Sam Collett and the race was used as a confidence-booster. “I took the blinkers off just to help him get his confidence back,” said Marshall. “He was never a winning chance around Te Awamutu as the track is too turning for him, but I wanted him to feel confidence and it was also a chance to keep his fitness up.”

Buckles also raced in a new set of colours at Te Awamutu when finishing 10th. “I burnt the old colours after Ellerslie,” said Marshall. “It was the second time one of my horses had fallen wearing them.”

Superstition is a big thing in racing, especially with jockeys and new colours. “Sam took the colours into the jockeys’ room and all the girls jumped on them,” said Marshall. “It’s supposed to get rid of the bad luck.”

Harris was glad that had happened as he would have done the same if he was to wear the colours for the first time last Friday. As it turned out the colours were carried to victory with Harris letting Buckles roll along in front.

“Stepping up to a middle-distance he just rolled along and kept giving,” said Harris. “He won it nicely in the end and he should win more.”

Buckles has now had four wins and Harris has been aboard in two of the victories. “He really suits him,” said Marshall, who spent 30 years as a photographic laboratory manager before helping out the Pike – Donoghue stable.

Buckles is the last foal of Manchio, a Khairpour mare Marshall bought for a mere $500. “I bought her just because she was grey,” said Marshall. “I prefer racing them rather than breeding them. Her best foal was Thumper, who won 12 races for Neil Coulbeck, including two in Australia.”

Marshall is considering backing Buckles up at Te Rapa next weekend and hoping Harris can stick with the Keeper gelding.