Gloucester Rugby: Alpacas make way as Bucko gets ready for race business
Pete Buxton rolled back the years when seeking his parents' help on a new business venture.
The Gloucester loose-forward explains how he has set up a race week event with a twist.
"SORRY Pete, you'll have to ask your mum," said Andy Buxton.
Few can recall Gloucester stalwart Pete Buxton's last backward step in 11 years of top-flight rugby with the Cherry and Whites.
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But the 34-year-old back-rower bowed his head, and headed off for the final verdict from his mother Kate.
"What are we going to do about the Alpacas?" demanded Mrs Buxton.
Kingsholm loose-forward Buxton's new business venture hung in the balance, resting on the assent of his parents.
The former Newport flanker was asking to use their Prestbury house as the venue for a Cheltenham Festival event, after all.
Solution found for the Buxton's 14-strong Alpaca pet corps, Bucko's Sports was born.
This time last year Buxton was in the grip of his celebration year, toasting a decade at Kingsholm.
One of his main events was a day's racing for the Gold Cup – from the ideal vantage point of his parents' home, backing directly on to the racecourse.
One day last year has swelled to three this, and Buxton is excited about future potential.
"I had to twist my parents' arm last year – I felt like a teenager asking to have a house party!" he chuckled.
"And then I actually did have to tell the lads to be on their best behaviour in the marquee as well.
"But it all went really well, and that's where the idea came from to do it again and slightly more formally.
"So the new venture and company have come out of that, and so far things are looking in pretty decent order, which is great.
"I think at first my parents were a bit sceptical, but they have come round.
"Last year the benefit year committee managed to convince them it was a good idea and luckily it went well – if it hadn't gone well then we wouldn't be doing it again.
"Some years back now my parents bought some Alpacas, because they were thinking about farming them.
"In the end they have just become pets, in all honesty, but they have multiplied and now there's 14 of them.
"So they have to be moved – I don't think high-spirited racing fans and spitting animals would mix too well!
"The racecourse has a special atmosphere like no other, especially during the Festival.
"But there are some people who love the racing but don't really enjoy the big crowds, especially on the Friday.
"So our unique selling point is that you can enjoy the racing with a great view, in the relaxed atmosphere of a private party.
"We've got tote betting all set up through the right channels, so you get the full experience, without the hustle and bustle that some people love but others don't."
The Buxton family's race days start on Wednesday with a special event hosted by Charlton Kings Cricket Club.
The Ryeworth Fields club are locked in a legal dispute over land totalling a fifth of their Ryeworth Fields pitch.
A 'gentleman's agreement' formed the basis of the club's long-term use of this land, but widow Jacki Mitchell lodged a claim for the return of the area with the High Court 18 months ago.
That court battle has rolled on ever since, with legal costs hitting £80,000 and still rising.
Gloucester favourite Buxton lives round the corner from the club's cricket ground, and hopes the club can stave off this problem and continue to thrive.
He said: "A couple of guys I know from the club approached me about the possibility of doing something in this week.
"Charlton Kings is my local cricket club and I want to see it continue as it is.
"It's a great part of the community, a great set-up and a fantastic place for youngsters and adults to go and test themselves in the sport, make friends and have a good time.
"So I was always going to say yes, because I want to help where I can.
"It's a chance for them to raise some funds towards their legal battle, and hopefully the day will be a big success for them.
"I tried cricket a few times when I was younger, but I never quite had the coordination for it!
"I'm quite happy to stick to rugby, but I think the Charlton Kings club is a vital part of the local area, and we need it to stay as it is.
"After that the Thursday is for Nick Wood and Alex Brown's benefit years, then we have the Gold Cup day as well.
"I think everyone really enjoyed themselves last year, so we're hoping for more of the same really."
Gearing up for a return to training next week, Buxton said several battered bodies will have benefited from Gloucester's fixture break.
But the former Cleeve School pupil said the Cherry and Whites remain frustrated to have missed out on the latter stages of the LV=Cup, played in this fortnight.
Nigel Davies' men take on London Welsh on Saturday, March 23 at Kingsholm (kick-off 3pm), with Buxton predicting a fierce return to action.
He said: "Ideally we would have had an LV=Cup semi-final this weekend and I won't hide the fact we're disappointed we don't.
"But the upside of that is that we have a chance to get some injured bodies back together, and a chance to reflect on where we have not quite measured up to our expectations.
"We're still in with a great shout for the league play-offs, so that's a good start.
"But we know we can still improve a great deal, and that's what we'll be working on when we get back to training next week."
For more information and ticket availability on Buxton's Cheltenham Festival events, log on to www.buckosports.com.