British General, a rising 14-year-old retired racehorse who won eight of his 28 starts and amassed $417,595 prizemoney in a career that spanned five years, may be the oldest off-the-track thoroughbred Yona and Nina Lloyd have retrained for a life after racing. However, his age is not the only unique aspect of his situation.
Bred by Kathy and David Brown, British General has never changed ownership and never will; instead, a long-term lease home is now sought for this much-loved gelding as he embarks on his next chapter. From surviving Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires as a yearling, to overcoming multiple injuries during his racing career, British General has shown time and time again that he has the heart of a lion. Having won many loyal fans during his racing career, his ability to command attention and respect now continues in his life after racing, and his connections are looking forward to the charismatic gelding finding someone who will love and appreciate him for many years to come.
Born in September 2007, British General is by General Nediym and out of British Lion, a mare that Kathy and David Brown also bred. Originally the plan was to sell the chestnut colt, and so in early 2009 British General was prepared for the sales by Erinvale Thoroughbreds and catalogued for the Magic Millions yearling sales on the Gold Coast. His sale was not to be; after failing to reach the reserve price and passing in at auction, British General headed home to the Browns’ property in Strathewen, 45km north-east of Melbourne.
British General had only been back home for a short time when tragedy struck. As the Black Saturday fires tore through parts of Victoria on 7 February 2009, 27 lives were lost in Strathewen and the majority of homes were destroyed, as the fire engulfed the small town with terrifying speed and intensity; a horrific day that irreversibly impacted the lives of all survivors, including the Brown family.
“British General was in the first box in the stables, and his mum British Lion was in the third box with a foal at foot,” Kathy Brown recalls. “The stables were ablaze and my husband David was only able to get the first box open. He couldn’t get any further because of the flames. So while he got British General out, his mum British Lion and his younger half-sister died in the fire along with other mares and foals we had in the paddocks.”
“With British General himself, David flung open the door to the stable, and the horse ran out of the burning building, disappearing into the eerie darkness created by the oncoming fire storm. When the fire had gone through – it seemed like an eternity – and we realised that we had survived, Dave went out and did a bit of a reccy to see what the situation was outside – who was alive and who wasn’t – and where everything was.