The Giant Bolster is retired
Cheltenham favourite The Giant Bolster, placed in the 2012 and 2014 renewals of the Gold Cup, has been retired.
The Giant Bolster, ridden by Tom Scudamore, (left) jumps the last alongside Rocky Creek on his way to victory in the 2014 Argento Chase.
David Bridgwater's stable star always saved his best for Cheltenham, winning three times at Prestbury Park, including when taking the Grade Two Argento Chase in January 2014.
That was to be his last success and the 11-year-old bows out having won just under £373,000 in prize-money in a 40-race career.
The Giant Bolster, who ran at seven consecutive Cheltenham Festivals, was a 50/1 runner-up to Synchronised in the 2012 Gold Cup and was beaten three-quarters of a length when third to Lord Windermere two years later.
He also finished fourth to Bobs Worth in the 2013 renewal of chasing's blue riband.
According to Bridgwater, the decision made by owners Simon Hunt and Gary Lambton to retire the popular gelding was agonising.
"He was probably a 'nearly' horse to everyone else, but to us he wasn't," the Gloucestershire handler told Press Association Sport.
"With luck in running, he could have won two Gold Cups.
"Had he done that, I suppose he would have been considered as one of the greats, but there is no question he has been our flagship horse for many years.
"He's given us some unbelievable days. It is like anything else, you will miss it when it isn't there.
"There is a big void now. That is why it has been so hard for Simon to make the decision to retire him.
"It's like having a wife for 30 years and then she runs off with someone else. It is a huge hole to fill.
"But I know it is the right thing to do. For the last 18 months the writing has been on the wall.
"He has been harder to get fit and any horse has got to want to do it. I'm not one of these people who will flog them regardless, and neither is Simon.
"Over that time, 'The Bolster' has been looking after himself and I've been very much looking after him. I'd like to think we've done each other proud."
The Giant Bolster was a standing dish at Cheltenham's Festival Trials Day each January.
Bridgwater added: "It was a wonderful meeting for him. He won there all three times he went to that meeting.
"Everybody tries to get a horse like him and we have been exceptionally lucky to have had him.
"When you look back, you think, 'Ah, we nearly won the Gold Cup twice', and we've had a wonderful time for seven years going to the Festival with him.
"But would it have made much difference to my training career had he won the Gold Cup? Probably not. I wasn't, all of a sudden, about to get sent 100 horses, was I?
"But we were very lucky to have had him, and we want another one like him, please!"
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