Silver Buck

Silver Buck champion steeplechaser

  • Breeding: gelding by Silver Cloud out of Choice Archlesse (Archive)
  • Races: – Ran, 48. Wins, 34
  • Foaled: Muckamore, Co Antrim 1972
  • Owner: Mrs Christine Feather
  • Trainer: M Dickinson

Silver Buck Irish-bred racehorse

Silver Buck was owned by Christine Feather and came over from Ireland as a four year old in 1977 to join Tony Dickinson’s yard having won a bumper at Powerstown Park. He was later to be trained by his son Michael.

He began with a hurdling campaign in 1977-78 winning four consecutive races in lowly company but failed to take the step in class and was fourth in the Sun Alliance Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

In his first season over fences, he started off with four consecutive wins. They included a dazzling performance in the Embassy Premier Chase at Wetherby, where he had Alverton, who later won the Gold Cup, six lengths behind. He went on to win the Embassy Chase Final at Haydock beating Night Nurse by two and a half lengths. He started favourite for the Sun Alliance Chase at the Cheltenham Festival but did not appear to get the trip, finishing third to Master Smudge who was subsequently to win a Gold Cup on the disqualification of Tied Cottage.

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A tremendous campaign in 1979-80 brought seven straight wins, one being a walkover. In the Edward Hanmer Chase at Haydock he again beat Night Nurse but this time only by half a length after a titanic battle. In the King George Vi Chase on Boxing Day he beat a new Irish pretender to Arkle’s crown, Jack Of Trumps who had earlier demolished Tied Cottage and Carrow Boy at Punchestown.

A year later he landed a King George VI double, this time beating that wonderful Irish mare, Anaglog’s Daughter with Diamond Edge in third. His old rival Night Nurse was in contention when falling at the last. In the Gold Cup, Silver Buck had his stamina questioned again, finishing third to Little Owl and Night Nurse.

In March 1992 he was to prove his critics wrong, landing the Gold Cup at Cheltenham from his stablemate Bregawn. The following season Bregawn was to turn the tables in the Gold Cup with Silver Buck finishing fourth in the memorable race that saw Michael Dickenson train the first five home.

1983-84 was his final season and he finished with a win in a Wetherby Handicap Chase. Sadly, he died of a sudden internal haemmorage at his home at Harewood. He became the highest prize money winner in the history of jump racing, winning 34 of his 48 races and picking up over £177,000 in first place prize money.

Silver Buck was, without question, one of the truly outstanding chasers of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. He was not the typical three mile steeplechaser, being sired by a high class flat racer in Silver Cloud out of a mare whose only win came in a modest hurdle event at beautiful but lowly Cartmel.

In his early days, Silver Buck showed far more of the temperament one would associate with a highly strung flat horse, showing lots of ability in his point to points in his native Ireland but proving to be a difficult ride.

After winning his bumper, he was purchased by Barney Curley and then sold on to the Dickinson family, who achieved so much with him. Never an easy horse to train, his roll of honour includes the Gold Cup in 1982, two King George’s, four Edward Hanmer chases and a host of other good chases.

In total, his career in England brought him victories in four hurdle races and thirty steeplechases and made him at the time the all-time leading prize money earner over jumps. He was never a horse to go and win his races in the manner of say a Desert Orchid, and his highly strung nature meant that he could only be trained to peak perhaps once or twice a year. However, at his best he was a Ferrari of a chaser, with a high cruising speed and potent turn of foot, combined with a flawless jumping technique.

Sadly, his nervous nature eventually brought about his downfall when, in the autumn of 1984 he was spooked whilst being taken out of the Dickinson’s yard for morning exercise and galloped riderless into a brick wall, suffering fatal internal injuries – a sad end for a wonderful horse.

My favourite memory of him? Well, most people would speak of the duel between Grundy and Bustino as being the ‘Race of the Century’ – if you want to see the race that truly merits that title, just watch a recording of the 1979 Embassy Premier Chase Final at Haydock, when Silver Buck and Night Nurse put on a display of courage and jumping which I doubt will ever be equalled by two novice chasers.