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TB's Off The Track

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    Posted: 28 Mar 2014 at 6:23pm


Road to Triequithon - Kerrie Bowman and Nangula Star


Kerrie Bowman and Nangula Star

The only South Australian combination Kerrie Bowman and Nangula Star hope the eight hour trip is worth it for next Saturday's Racing Victoria Off The Track Triequithon.

Chestnut mares have a reputation in the equestrian industry but talented event rider Kerrie Bowman is hoping her retired racehorse can defy the stereotype in Saturday week’s Racing Victoria Off The Track Triequithon.

Bowman rides eight-year-old Nangula Star, a five start maiden on the track for Millicent trainers Vincent Bradley and Mark Dwyer, in the innovative equestrian event to be conducted between races at Mornington on 5 April.

While she admits a stigma exists around mares in eventing circles, particularly those of the chestnut variety, Bowman believes her strong affinity with Nangula Star is enough to cast aside any aspersions.  

“For some reason people dislike mares anyway but then they dislike chestnut mares even more,” Bowman said.

“Between a team of eight horses, seven of mine are mares because I just think they work harder and once you’ve got them, they help you out no matter what.”

An accomplished rider who has honed her skills with some of the world’s foremost event coaches in Australia and abroad, Millicent-based Bowman is the lone South Australian rider competing in the Triequithon.

And while her vast experience across the three disciplines – dressage, cross country and showjumping - isn’t matched by her mount, Bowman is confident the quick-learning daughter of Fraar is well-placed at 1* level.

“It will take me eight hours to get there so for me it is going to be a three day trip but we’re all very excited to be coming along,” Bowman said.

“Right from the word go she could really jump and she loved to do it.

“With eventing, she’s probably only had six starts all up but she’s come up the ranks so quickly because shells such a confident jumper.”

A combination of luck and a handy reputation in her hometown saw Bowman secure Nangula Star, who now competes under the name Fourwinds Millicent, for what is now a bargain price of $600 following her retirement from the track.

Accustomed to sharing a paddock with other livestock, Bowman said she was interested to see how her mare would cope with the atmosphere upon returning to the track for the Triequithon.

“It was a bit of a fluke that I got her because we were at the local Millicent Show and usually after the Show everyone goes to the pub,” Bowman said.

“My brother went to the pub and the owner spoke to him and told him that he had a horse for me.”

“She was out in a 4000 acre paddock with about 600 sheep and two alpacas and as soon as I saw her I asked the owner how much he wanted for her.”

“I was lucky enough to buy her for $600 which I couldn’t believe.”

Conducted in a condensed format inside and adjacent to the Mornington racetrack, the 10 talented off the track thoroughbreds will compete between races throughout the meeting, accumulating points based on their performance in each discipline.

The public will have direct access to view the dressage and showjumping rounds of the competition with the spectacular cross country spectacle to be broadcast live on the course’s big screen courtesy of cameras on the state-of-the-art course.

The riders will be competing for a prize pool totalling $15,000, making the Racing Victoria Off the Track Triequithon one of the richest contests on the Australian eventing calendar.


Equestrian goes to the races

RACING Victoria will conduct the inaugural Racing Victoria Off the Track Triequithon at Mornington on Saturday, April 5.

The unique event will see retired racehorses compete in three equestrian disciplines between races at the Mornington meeting.

Racing Victoria’s chief executive Bernard Saundry said thoroughbreds were the most common breed among the 600,000 pleasure horses in the state.

“Racing Victoria is extremely proud to conduct the first Triequithon which works to further promote the value and success of retired racehorses in post-racing careers,” Saundry said.

“Thousands of racehorses have gone on to successful eventing careers following their retirement

from the racetrack; they are highly versatile animals and we have witnessed extraordinary results on the Australian eventing circuit,” Saundry said.



Edited by Gay3 - 28 Mar 2014 at 6:24pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2014 at 6:27pm

Road to Triequithon - Natalie Davies and Yasmac


Former Jason Warren-trained mare Yasmac is adept as a jumper

Mornington Peninsula-based event rider Natalie Davies is hoping the Black Caviar form stands up in Saturday week's Racing Victoria Off The Track Triequithon

The legacy of superstar mare Black Caviar continues to extend well beyond her retirement from racing and at Mornington on 5 April, a small part of the Black Caviar story will play out in the inaugural Racing Victoria (RV) Off The Track (OTT) Triequithon.

One of 10 retired racehorses competing in the Triequithon, a unique event combining equestrian and racing, seven-year-old Testa Rossa mare Yasmac boasts a link to the mare that captured a nation during an undefeated run that spanned 25 races.

The former Jason Warren-trained galloper finished fourth in a Cranbourne trial in March 2009, beaten more than five lengths by the then unraced daughter of Bel Esprit who was making her first official appearance at a racetrack for trainer Peter Moody.

In contrast to Black Caviar’s racing career, which yielded 15 Group 1 wins and just shy of $8 million in prizemoney for connections, Yasmac’s highlight on the track came in the form of a maiden victory at Bairnsdale in September 2009.

But according to Mornington Peninsula-based event rider Natalie Davies, it’s Yasmac’s ability off the track that will see her line up as one of the leading fancies in the lucrative Triequithon, an event that will see some of Victoria’s leading 1* eventers compete in dressage, cross country and show jumping between races at the Mornington meeting.

“She is absolutely amazing for me,” Davies said.

“Wherever I take her, a lot of people comment on how wonderful she is and many can’t believe it when I tell them that she’s a thoroughbred.

“Some people don’t think that thoroughbreds can be as amazing as what she is so it’s nice for us to be able to show that if you get a good horse off the track, they are as good as any other.”

An established event rider who has ridden in 4* level at the Australian International Three Day Event in Adelaide on multiple occasions, Davies purchased Yasmac last year with little knowledge of her racing history.

The mare, who now competes as Chatswood Design, joins another off the track thoroughbred, former Lee Freedman and John McArdle-trained eight-year-old El Grado, in Davies stable.

“When I bought her a year ago she’d already had some work off the track and she’d already competed at the first two levels of eventing,” Davies said.

“Yasmac is by Testa Rossa and I’m now finding myself looking at a lot of Testa Rossas and they all seem to have similar characteristics to her.

“I love to find out about their history on the track.

“I’ve got another off the track horse and I try to keep in touch with the trainers and the owners because they are really interested to see what they go on to do.”

Conducted in a condensed format inside and adjacent to the Mornington racetrack, The RV OTT Triequithon will see horses accumulate points based on their performance in each of the three disciplines throughout the meeting, the winner rewarded with the largest share of the $15,000 prizemoney pool.

The public, who are offered two-for-one general admission at the meeting, will have direct access to view the dressage and showjumping rounds of the competition with the spectacular cross country spectacle to be broadcast live on the course’s big screen courtesy of cameras on every jump of the state-of-the-art course.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote PhillipC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2014 at 10:18pm
It should be a great spectacle for everyone to see and a great initiative from Racing Victoria to stage an event like this. Unfortunately I can't make it to watch as I will be judging elsewhere that day :-(
http://www.equinehaven.com.au
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2014 at 9:34am

Road to Triequithon - Lucinda Doodt and Ruling Devil

A last minute call up has presented Year 1 Racing Victoria apprentice jockey Lucinda Doodt with the opportunity to contest Saturday's Racing Victoria Off The Track Triequithon on Ruling Devil.
 
Racing Victoria Year One apprentice Lucinda Doodt can claim her first racetrack success at Mornington on Saturday.
 
While it won’t be in an official race, Doodt will join nine other equestrian riders and their retired racehorses competing in the inaugural Racing Victoria Off the Track Triequithon between races at Saturday’s meeting.
 
The Ballarat teen is a late addition to the line-up for the Triequithon, receiving the call up to ride nine-year-old Ruling Devil after injury forced the withdrawal of another combination, Toolern Vale’s Deb Pacing and her former Peter Moody-trained galloper Hit List.
 
Doodt thanked friend and fellow Triequithon competitor Stephanie Thornton, Ruling Devil’s owner and regular rider, for the opportunity to compete in the lucrative event that will see 10 of Victoria’s most talented retired racehorses compete at 1* level in dressage, cross country and show jumping.
 
“I have to thank Stephanie Thornton because she gave me a call and had a spare one-star horse,” Doodt said.
 
“We did a bit of a promotion between races at Geelong last week which went really well.
 
“I have two ex-racehorses but neither of them are up to the level that we have to compete in at the Trequithon.”
 
While she admits she lacks the association with her mount, an unraced son of A P Ruler, many of her rivals boast, the 16-year-old believes her work for Miners Rest trainer Mark Lewis has her well placed to get the best out of the nine-year-old in each of the three Triequithon disciplines.
 
As well as completing three days of classes every month in Racing Victoria’s Apprentice Jockey Training Program, Doodt rides track work for Lewis most mornings as part of her riding education that will one day see her join Victoria’s jockey ranks.
 
“Other people probably have a little bit of an advantage but he’s a very nice horse and I seem to be getting along with him very well,” Doodt said.
 
“I think it definitely helps that I ride different horses of a morning all the time so I’m used to getting on a lot of different thoroughbreds.
 
“It’s really exciting; I went and had a bit of a trial run at Corio Mooroobool Horse Trials on the weekend to get a bit more of a feel for the horse.”
 
While much is made of her background in dancing, Doodt’s ability in the saddle from a young age was key to her pursuing a career as a jockey and she admits eventing remains a passion.
 
Thoroughbreds in particular hold a special place in her heart and Doodt is hopeful of taking one of her own to the Melbourne International Three Day Event at Werribee in June.
 
“I’ve been fortunate enough to continue with my eventing and I’ve got three horses that I still compete on.”
 
“Mark’s really good with helping me balance everything and makes sure I get to school on time and have enough time to work my own horses,” Doodt said.
 
“I’m hoping to take one of them to Melbourne Three Day Event in June so, even on a different horse, this is a great opportunity to showcase an off the track horse.”
 
Designed to showcase retired racehorses as the ideal equestrian athletes, the Racing Victoria Off The Track Triequithon will be conducted in a condensed eventing format that will see combinations compete in dressage (between Race 1 and Race 3), cross country (between Race 3 and Race 5) and show jumping (Between Race 5 and Race 7).
 
As well as the exciting seven-race program, fans can enjoy the feature racing action from Flemington and Rosehill broadcast on course, a ‘racehorse to riding horse’ master class from Jonathon McLean and a host of children’s entertainment and competitions. 
More information on the Racing Victoria Off The Track Triequithon is available here
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Go Flash Go Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Apr 2014 at 12:03am
Nice to see more life after racing for some lucky thoroughbreds and a fun time it would be for them.

Although am not a real horse person obviously, am learning though, whenever get to the Royal Melbourne Show (Kelpie* judging = much Heart) always like to take time to watch any eventing taking place. Although it's more than a little above my head  am amazed at the strength, control and finesse, both horse and riders show, under a lot of competitive pressure. 

Must take a lot to get to that point -  particularly like the balance comment in the above article.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Sep 2014 at 10:20pm


With all the negative things being said about racing stories like this are beautiful and should be shared. Ledger Racing retired "SPECIAL QUALITY" a 6yo gelding after a below par performance at wodonga races last Monday. X-rays on Tuesday revealed Quality had sustained a career ending fracture that extended up into his joint. He was lucky not to break his leg in the run and had 2 options euthanasia or surgery to pin the crack in the bone and allow him a chance to retire to the paddock. Trainer John Ledger & syndicate manager Tony Seychell from "Quality Thoroughbreds" both dipped into their own PERSONAL pockets to finance the operation which has saved Quality's life and will now give him a chance to retire to our farm. Racing is not the evil entity all these animal rights head cases make it out to be. Racing is about heart and love for all our equines. Enjoy your retirement Special Quality and thank you for the racing thrills and memories!


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote acacia alba Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Sep 2014 at 1:09am
thats nice .  shows some folks do care.  and dont let horses end up in the hands of creeps, like that one in another thread,,the one who raced in the Melb Cup .
there are people in the game who care.  Clap
animals before people.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Sep 2014 at 12:29pm
I'm sorry the FB pics don't reproduce for me as he's a lovely strong type with an attractive head & beautiful kind eye Smile

Horses at Auction - Preview added 6 new photos.
2 hrs ·

Thank you so much for the update Tanisha

I live in nsw so i was not looking for a horse out of state i had liked this page to just keep an eye out and stuff. on the 20th of august everything changed i saw this young stunning boy with the kindest eyes in pen 89 and had to try my best to get him. being a 5 yr tb that was also 17hh i was expecting the worst of the worst in behaviour wise but a month on and there is nothing that can explain how much this boy as surprised me he is the most chilled out affectionate boy i have ever met he loves people and pats. i have not done much with him has I'm still trying to get weight and muscle on him i have jumped on him bare back a few times first and second rides i was mores suprsed at the fact that he walked over small jumps and a trap did not refuse a thing he's such a smooch i can not fault a thing i did find out that he was a cribber but to be honest i can not blame him for that he might have stared it because of his history. he is enjoying living it up and getting spoilt best buy ever very very very impressed with him and i know he has more to offer


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Sep 2014 at 11:54am

Stephens brings World Cup Dreams to Life with Galvanised

  • The hype surrounding million dollar gelding Dreams To Life looks set to finally become a reality this week, though maybe not in the way his breeders had first imagined.

    An imposing steel grey son of Show A Heart and brother to dual-Group 1 winner Heart Of Dreams, Dreams To Life began his life at the track under the careful eye of Caulfield-trainer Mick Price in mid-2009, however it quickly became apparent that life as a racehorse was not for Dreams To Life.

    After three unplaced race starts Dreams To Life, better known as Galvanised, was retired and taken in by Mick’s wife Caroline, a highly respected thoroughbred re-trainer and rider in her own right.  

After taking Galvanised through a basic equestrian education, Price set out to find the eye-catching youngster a home for life, and as such put in a call to brother-in-law Phil Stephens

Stephens, a power station reliability technician by trade, was on the look-out for a new showjumping horse and was immediately taken by Galvanised’s stride and size.

“Caroline organised for me to have a ride of him through my wife Katherine. I remember I gave him a try-out that day and bought him pretty much straight away,” he said. 

“He felt really good. At that stage he was still pretty green but there was something really special about him.

“After having a ride on him I pretty much knew straight away that I didn’t want to let him go. It was tough because a lot of people were interested in him, but in the end though I knew I just had to have him; you could try another 50 horses and not find one that feels like he did.”

Stephens is the first to admit his mixture of power stations and showjumping is a rare one. The father of two and has spent the past 30 years in the saddle travelling the state to compete in shows.

“It’s quite opposite to showjumping isn’t it,” he said with a laugh.

“My mates at work hang a fair bit of gelati on me for the uniforms we wear and that. As a bloke, even from when I was in school you can cop it a bit.  In the end, it doesn’t really bother me; I wouldn’t keep doing it if I did.”

Stephens has become quite successful in his ‘hobby riding’ and will look to take a further positive step this week as he prepares to saddle up Galvanised at the Royal Melbourne Show.

A recent winner of the Best Performed Retired Race Horse award at the 2014 Australian Showjumping Championship, Galvanised has quickly earnt a reputation as one of the most promising jumpers of the future, though it hasn’t always been easy.

“The first few shows we went to, probably for the first 12 months, he wasn’t very competitive it was more about learning the ropes,” Stephens said.

“By the time his second season came along it was all systems go and time to get competitive instead of just training.

“He’s starting to step up to Mini Prix’s now and if he’s good enough this time next year he’ll jump in a World Cup. Obviously there’s a fair bit of work to be done between now and then but 12 months is a long time in show jumping.”

That work begins this weekend at the Royal Melbourne Show when Galvanised steps out in the Group B Jumping Competition. Stephens is confident that Galvanised can make a prominent showing this week, as long as he is able to remain calm in the ring.

“He’s got the ability, it’s just whether he can get on top of his nerves with the heightened atmosphere around,” he said.

“With him it’s all about managing his mind and seeing how goes on the day, he just gets his nerves up. He’s definitely got the ability, and every show he enters he learns something and gets better; he’s young and sound at the moment so who knows.

“We’ll get through this week with him and see how he goes. He’s a great horse and just a nice horse to be around, so hopefully he can put the right foot forward this weekend and go on from there, only time will tell I guess.”

By Daniel Miles - @DanielMiles90

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote reng Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Sep 2014 at 2:33pm
Some number around retired racehorses:
http://breedingracing.realviewdigital.com/?iid=102110#folio=52
The problem with Opportunity is that it wears overalls and looks like work.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Sep 2014 at 9:15pm

Chosen the One for Garryowen win

Shae Hanger and Chosen One celebrate their Garryowen success

Retired racehorse Chosen One has given Mornington show rider Shae Hanger her second win in one of Australia’s most coveted equestrian events, the Garryowen Equestrienne Turnout, at the Royal Melbourne Show today.

The nine-year-old was presented in immaculate condition and put in a faultless workout to top the judges scorecards ahead of another Off the Track thoroughbred, former Lloyd Williams-owned gelding SLM Orlando (raced as Ingleby) for Stephanie Barrington.

Chosen One won three races from his 39 career starts on the track for Mornington trainer Tony Noonan and collected more than $65,000 in prizemoney for his connections.

Following his retirement in 2012, the son of Choisir was immediately identified as a potential show ring proposition with Hanger wasting little time beginning his re-education.

The victory, in the 80th renewal of the event, carried added significance for Hanger who is the great-great-niece of Violet Murrell, owner and rider of the event’s namesake, Garryowen.

In a red-letter day for Off the Track thoroughbreds, five of the top six Garryowen placegetters boasted histories on the racetrack, including fourth placed DP Amazing (Medal Of Honour) , fifth placed The Russian (Portland Pirate) and sixth placed Montilla (Don Eduardo).

The Best First Year Rider award was presented to Rebekah Carollan who partnered former Western Australian galloper London Court (Fimiston).


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote acacia alba Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Sep 2014 at 10:13pm
WOOOOOOO HOOOOO.  
go you wonderful OTTTBs . 
for those who cant find homes for their retired OTTTBs,,,,you aint tryin'
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ChestnutGreyandRoan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Sep 2014 at 2:03pm
Originally posted by Gay3 Gay3 wrote:

Stephens brings World Cup Dreams to Life with Galvanised

  • The hype surrounding million dollar gelding Dreams To Life looks set to finally become a reality this week, though maybe not in the way his breeders had first imagined.

    An imposing steel grey son of Show A Heart and brother to dual-Group 1 winner Heart Of Dreams, Dreams To Life began his life at the track under the careful eye of Caulfield-trainer Mick Price in mid-2009, however it quickly became apparent that life as a racehorse was not for Dreams To Life.

    After three unplaced race starts Dreams To Life, better known as Galvanised, was retired and taken in by Mick’s wife Caroline, a highly respected thoroughbred re-trainer and rider in her own right.  

After taking Galvanised through a basic equestrian education, Price set out to find the eye-catching youngster a home for life, and as such put in a call to brother-in-law Phil Stephens

Stephens, a power station reliability technician by trade, was on the look-out for a new showjumping horse and was immediately taken by Galvanised’s stride and size.

“Caroline organised for me to have a ride of him through my wife Katherine. I remember I gave him a try-out that day and bought him pretty much straight away,” he said. 

“He felt really good. At that stage he was still pretty green but there was something really special about him.

“After having a ride on him I pretty much knew straight away that I didn’t want to let him go. It was tough because a lot of people were interested in him, but in the end though I knew I just had to have him; you could try another 50 horses and not find one that feels like he did.”

Stephens is the first to admit his mixture of power stations and showjumping is a rare one. The father of two and has spent the past 30 years in the saddle travelling the state to compete in shows.

“It’s quite opposite to showjumping isn’t it,” he said with a laugh.

“My mates at work hang a fair bit of gelati on me for the uniforms we wear and that. As a bloke, even from when I was in school you can cop it a bit.  In the end, it doesn’t really bother me; I wouldn’t keep doing it if I did.”

Stephens has become quite successful in his ‘hobby riding’ and will look to take a further positive step this week as he prepares to saddle up Galvanised at the Royal Melbourne Show.

A recent winner of the Best Performed Retired Race Horse award at the 2014 Australian Showjumping Championship, Galvanised has quickly earnt a reputation as one of the most promising jumpers of the future, though it hasn’t always been easy.

“The first few shows we went to, probably for the first 12 months, he wasn’t very competitive it was more about learning the ropes,” Stephens said.

“By the time his second season came along it was all systems go and time to get competitive instead of just training.

“He’s starting to step up to Mini Prix’s now and if he’s good enough this time next year he’ll jump in a World Cup. Obviously there’s a fair bit of work to be done between now and then but 12 months is a long time in show jumping.”

That work begins this weekend at the Royal Melbourne Show when Galvanised steps out in the Group B Jumping Competition. Stephens is confident that Galvanised can make a prominent showing this week, as long as he is able to remain calm in the ring.

“He’s got the ability, it’s just whether he can get on top of his nerves with the heightened atmosphere around,” he said.

“With him it’s all about managing his mind and seeing how goes on the day, he just gets his nerves up. He’s definitely got the ability, and every show he enters he learns something and gets better; he’s young and sound at the moment so who knows.

“We’ll get through this week with him and see how he goes. He’s a great horse and just a nice horse to be around, so hopefully he can put the right foot forward this weekend and go on from there, only time will tell I guess.”

By Daniel Miles - @DanielMiles90


I never understood how geldings could be worth a million dollars. You can't bred them! Also never heard of "steel grey", is this just another name for roan? What color would be listed on the Jockey Club papers?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Sep 2014 at 3:24pm
He would've been a colt when the mill. was paid, in the hope he could be well enough performed to stand at stud.
Steel grey: Google 'horse steel grey' & you'll see the images, no, not to be confused with roan & also known as 'iron' grey.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote reng Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Sep 2014 at 10:18am
Roans are grey with black legs and mane, while grey horses are grey everywhere.
The problem with Opportunity is that it wears overalls and looks like work.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Oct 2014 at 2:53pm
Handy to keep track of all this painstakingly slow to research, data Smile

Our Rockhampton, an ex-racehorse now competing as a 3-day-eventer. Image supplied by Renée Geelen.

What happens to all those racehorses?

1 October 2014

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What happens to racehorses when they leave the track?

Last week I was contacted by a number of people critical of our decision to display of a can of ‘Horsielicious’, created by the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR), in the Spirited: Australia’s Horse Story exhibition. The can was used in 2014 protests aimed at raising awareness of the need for a ‘retirement plan’ for horses involved in racing.

In recent years, animal welfare groups like the RSPCA, Animals Australia and the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses have raised concerns about the long-term care of horses from the racing industry.

In 2013 the Australian Racing Board commissioned Thoroughbred consultant Renée Geelen to undertake a survey of retired horses. Renée was one of the people who wrote to the Museum to express her disappointment that we had included the CPR’s can in the exhibition. I’ve invited her to present her perspective on the issue in this guest blog post.

“The wind of heaven is that which passes through a horse’s ears.”  Arabian Proverb

There is nothing much that beats the thrill and companionship that comes with partnering a 500kg animal at speed. You can’t make a horse do anything but you can become a partner and move together.  We celebrate the racehorse as the finest example of athleticism and partnership.  Their will to win drives an emotional connection, and the stories of our champions keeps the dream alive for everyone.

Racehorses have been specifically bred for purpose for over 350 years, and premier breeder Frederico Tesio summed it up when he said “The Thoroughbred exists because its selection has depended, not on experts, technicians, or zoologists, but on a piece of wood: the winning post of the Epsom Derby.”

Young Rockingham was the first official racehorse in Australia, imported here in 1797 and used to breed all types of horses. The first official race meeting was held in Sydney’s Hyde Park in 1810, and since then, the Australian racing industry has kept extensive records of every horse born or raced here.  A racehorse’s pedigree is more accurately known than most people’s genealogy, and every raceday outing is tracked and recorded.

The Australian racing industry is the second largest in the world (after the USA) with more than $520million in prizemoney on offer every year. Over 70,000 people own shares in more than 32,000 racehorses and the range of ownership is huge.  Some syndicates have more than 100 people involved in one horse, while bigger owners have more than 500 horses in work.

These numbers are huge, and the prizemoney is just the start of it. A racehorse costs about $30,000 a year to keep in training, and that money employs the strappers, trainers, riders, vets, farriers, feed companies and many others that look after the horse’s every need.     Racehorses are athletes, and live in five star accommodation, and the racing industry has always had a strong internal focus towards animal welfare. The industry bodies take care of the wider issues of animal welfare through the strength of their anti-drug policies and enforcement, their safety policies and through the use of racecourse vets to both ensure that horses are in a fit state to race when they are on course and to give immediate assistance to horses when required.

Racehorses mature quickly compared to other breeds, and can legally start racing from the age of two. Only 20% of horses actually race as 2 year olds, but these precocious horses have longer careers and earn more prizemoney than horses that take longer to mature.  The remainder of horses have their first start as 3 year olds or older, and in 2014, there are four horses racing that are still racing as 12 year olds.  For most horses, however, they retire before then and with a potential life span of 25 years, these horses need to go somewhere.

So what happens to all those racehorses? Every season, approximately 11,000 racehorses retire for a range of reasons, such as old age, injury, illness, or being not fast enough to compete successfully.  Owning a pleasure horse is not like owning a car, there is no central registration for them and therefore there is no data on what happens to all those racehorses.  I was commissioned by the Australian Racing Board (ARB) to design and undertake a survey on our retired horses.   Australian Stud Book records tell us that approximately 3,000 of the 11,000 retirees go to stud, staying in the racing industry, but this leaves 8,000 horses that we needed to collect timely data about.

An initial list of 25 trainers was compiled that represented the major city and country based stables across Australia. These trainers had an average of 100 horses that had raced for them over the past three seasons, and by tracking these horses we ended up with information about 2,514 horses.  Because of the initial bias towards large stables, the survey was later expanded to include 21 other country trainers to capture a wider range of horses across the industry.  The response rate was much lower, with only 12 trainers responding with data for 737 horses, resulting in a total of 3,224 horses surveyed.

The results were:

Still Racing Combined Results Total % of Retired
Different Trainer 662 21%
Still in Work/Spelling 1,015 31%
Exported 77 2%
Total 1,754 54%
Completed Racing Career


At Stud 664 21% 45%
Sold/Gifted as pleasure horse 450 14% 31%
Returned to Owner 205 6% 14%
Died/Euthanised by Vet 109 3% 7%
Unknown 19 0.6% 1.3%
Career in Racing 17 0.5% 1.2%
Knackery 6 0.2% 0.4%
Total 1,470




TOTAL 3,224    

While doing the survey, I also took notes on the different jobs that horses went on to do under the ‘Sold/Given away as a pleasure horse’ category, and they were quite wide ranging and interesting. Comments include “stars in horse movies”, “stock horse in Broome”, “eventer”, “champion show jumper in Victoria”, “polo”, “sports broodmare”, “nanny horse at stud”, “ridden by an 11 year old girl who loves him”, “plays Phar Lap in the Outback Australia show”, “owner’s kids ride her”, “riding for the disabled”, “he’s on a farm we bought for all our retired horses”, and so on.  Stock horses, pony club, and show horses were the most common comments for where retired horses had ended up.  Many country trained horses had owners who were graziers and used their retired horses on their farms.

This survey found that most retired racehorses find a new career after racing, and gratifyingly, from a scientific point of view, this data lines up with a previous survey done in 2002/03. It’s taken more than ten years, but this data has recently been published by Professor McGreevy et al, and in summary, found that of 1,333 horses that left a racing stable, 63% stayed in the industry with 243 (18%) going to stud, 229 (17%) moving to another trainer, 150 (11%) spelling, and 221 (17%) sold at auction. Of the 490 horses that left racing, 324 went to other careers, with a small portion being unspecified, dead or at a knackery.  This study used their data to calculate that in 2002/03, an estimated 650 Thoroughbreds went directly from racing to a knackery.

ARB CEO Peter McGauran said “This is a ground breaking study that injects statistical rigor and accuracy into an emotive debate characterized by exaggeration and distortion. The community in deciding between the competing claims wants accurate and reliable information. The racing industry, like all competitive animal sports, operates under a social license and must adhere to community standards. If we lose the confidence of the public, we will become marginalized and gradually become irrelevant.   Racing is a mainstream sport with enormous cultural and economic importance and adheres to the highest integrity and animal welfare standards.  This survey shows that the overwhelming majority of racehorses enjoy a productive or secure retirement courtesy of their owners who genuinely love the animal. That’s the way it should be. Owners are responsible for the humane treatment of their horse(s) both during and after their racing careers. By all means let’s have the debate on the retirement of racehorses, but let’s have it on the basis of the facts not an ideological obsession. The community deserves better than the propaganda and outright lies of the Animal Rights lobby.”

Animals Australia state on their website that the industry “discards” significant proportions of horses every year, while the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR) state that 15,000 Thoroughbreds are slaughtered every year by the racing industry. By chanting this, they are claiming that every Thoroughbred foal ever born is sent to the knackery. The CPR has, following the National Museum of Australia’s request for material, donated some of their protest items for display in the Spirited exhibition.  The can of “Horsielicious” is from an anti-racing protest that, from my understanding, attracted 10 protestors.

By contrast, the ARB study is further validated by research done by Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) in 2001 that used economic, recreational event data and breed society data to estimate the number of horses in Australia. They estimate that there are nearly 180,000 registered Thoroughbreds in Australia, of which 32,000 are racing, 66,000 are breeding or young stock, 24,000 compete in registered non-racing events (eg the Royal Easter Show), and 57,000 are used for recreation.  There are also 300,000 feral horses, 320,000 horses of other breeds (Standardbreds, Arabian, Quarter horses, pony breeds, etc), and 218,000 unregistered recreational horses in Australia (of which unnamed Thoroughbreds make up a significant proportion).

RIRDC uses an average life span of ten years for these horses, and this means that every year between 8,100 and 15,000 Thoroughbreds in leisure homes will die of old age, illness or injury and will need to be replaced. Simply put, there are a minimum of 8,100 new homes outside the racing industry for our horses every year.

This study highlights that the vast majority of racehorses go on to new careers in a large range of areas, including breeding, leisure horses, sport horses, stock horses and police horses.  Each of the state Principle Racing Authorities have a racehorse retraining system to aid in this process and these can be found on the various websites of these organisations.  The horse is a willing partner with a human and brings joys to many people in many facets across Australia.

Our Rockhampton, an ex-racehorse now competing as a 3-day-eventer. Image supplied by Renee Geelen.

Our Rockhampton, an ex-racehorse now competing as a 3-day-eventer. Photograph by Jenny Barnes. Image supplied by Renée Geelen.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Oct 2014 at 4:31pm

Looking good Danleigh!!! We love keeping in touch with how our horses when they've finished racing and by all accounts - Danleigh's carried his winning ways through to the show ring with Sandy Parker and family.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2014 at 12:40pm

Polo Ponies

This article first appeared in Equestrian Life magazine, for more pick up your latest copy today

http://www.equestrianlife.com.au/articles/Polo-Ponies

BY KATIE EDMEADES – Co Owner JM Polo

PHOTOGRAPHS SUBJECT TO COPYRIGHT

JUST LIKE MANY of the racehorses we retrain and introduce to competitive polo, I was brought up in a racing family before converting to the exciting sport of polo. I’ve had passion for horses from a young age, growing up in the heartland of British racing, Newmarket, where my parents still run a bloodstock business. Since getting the polo bug, however, the sport has taken me all over the world in various roles. From grooming to playing, managing professional players, clubs and teams. I have also had the privilege to represent both England and Australia in Ladies polo. But throughout, my main passion has always been the training and retraining of horses.

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I have been lucky to have worked for exceptional horsemen and women around the world from whom I’ve learnt a great deal.  My biggest influence was being surrounded by exceptional bloodstock from a young age and understanding the skill and work involved in producing a champion.  It is the same long slog for the racetrack and polo field alike. I came to Australia nine years ago, and it was while playing at a tournament in Melbourne that I met my boyfriend and business partner, Edward Matthies. We started JM Polo in 2006 and have been providing services to the polo community ever since. Edward is a talented horseman and has a great affinity with his horses. He is a professional polo player and we produce horses to mount him, myself and the country’s top professionals and to sell domestically and overseas. My main role is training the young horses. We have a proven breeding program in place, but we also supplement it by buying young horses with little to no education. I draw on my racing background to help me in their selection, on and off the track.

The first step is research, starting with the Australian Stud Book for the breeding and racing history of a horse. Where available, we watch races on archived video, and there’s the odd phone call to the UK to get my parents’ opinion if they have had dealings with the bloodlines. Another exciting avenue of supply has come from a great initiative by the NSW racing industry and the corrections system. We have formed a relationship with the Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Trust, a not-for profit organisation that helps rehabilitate and re-educate former NSW Thoroughbred racehorses. The program is a working partnership between Racing NSW and Corrective Services NSW. Former racehorses given to the trust for re-education into other disciplines are first sent to St Heliers Correctional Centre, near Musswellbrook in north-east NSW, where they are spelled and given early retraining and handling by inmates. They are then sent to Canterbury Racecourse where TRT is based, to be retrained by TRT’s Thoroughbred rehabilitation manager, Scott Brodie, and his dedicated team. These horses are then offered for sale, with all proceeds going to further this fantastic cause.

All the horses we have purchased from TRT have been very well mannered, honest horses and we’re pleased with how they are developing as polo ponies. Scott is in tune with our requirements and lets us know if he thinks he has a candidate. He takes a lot of the hard work out of the selection process and we have a number of talented ex-TRT horses currently in our program. 

Training a polo pony is a slow process, but the rewards are immense. The horses we look to source off the track are judged not only on their current physique but we have to be mindful of their potential for growth, as many are as young as two. Upon inspection we look at the horse as a whole, paying particular attention to its legs and feet. We watch the horse walk towards us and away, and then watch while it’s being free lunged. This lets us see how the horse holds itself and, most importantly, its head carriage. We want our horses to run flat with their heads on the low side of level.

As in all sports, polo players come in all shapes and sizes and so do their horses, but in our experience horses between 15hh and 15.2hh suit most of the market and generally make the best polo ponies.  Typically, players prefer to play on a string of horses all roughly the same size, as they then don’t have to adjust their swing too much from one horse to another or play with different length mallets.

The ideal age we look for is two to four years. Polo ponies generally reach their full potential and most valuable point at six to eight years.  Once we have purchased a horse off the racetrack, we turn it out for a spell to get the feed out of it and also let them switch off and get racing out of their system. On all our young stock, we strongly believe in eliminating problems before they occur. We ensure a dentist looks at their teeth and also have it seen by our chiropractor and we have its feet assessed. We can then create a plan of how to proceed, allowing for any problems and knowing whether behavioural issues are associated with pain or discomfort.

Life as a polo pony is very different from that of a racehorse. In the initial training, each horse is worked individually most days and we integrate them into the polo way of life as soon as possible. When we exercise our playing ponies, we do so in groups of four or five, in what we call a set. This is when one horse is ridden and the others lead (pictured). This is a quick and effective way to get horses fit before the season. The horses that have come off the track can often have difficulties with this and as such we incorporate this into the early stages of training. It also helps acclimatise them to the contact with the other horses, reducing their inclination to race when they get out on a polo field.

Polo Horses Katie Edmeades - Issue 17

Whilst Equestrian Life does publish photos of riders without helmets, we strongly recommend the use of an Australian approved helmet at all times when horse riding.

When a racehorse is in training, it is usually stabled and paddocked by itself; however we run our horses in batches. They come in and get stabled through the day and are turned out in the evenings, generally running together in groups of up to 10-12 horses.  In a polo yard the staff-to-horse ratio is on average 1:10, so it is important the horses learn to comply with daily routines and processes. As we all know, each horse is an individual and training programs are tailored to suit the needs of each horse. We have targets we aim for, but we’re flexible in the pathways to achieve them.

All our horses, homebred and sourced, begin with a basic foundation of flat work. We find that an understanding of basic dressage not only balances and rounds our horses but sets them aside on the polo field. We use the round yard to aid us in much of our work, predominantly in the early stages of training but also later for fitness work. We tie back our horses using side reins and a roller on a regular basis to build up the muscles in their necks, often while they are free lunged.

Polo Horses Katie Edmeades - Issue 17

Neck reining is how we steer a polo pony: the reins are held in the left hand and the mallet in the right. Some horses take to this better than others. Polo horses need to be as responsive as possible, as the direction of play changes suddenly in a game. Initially a lot of work is done at home riding in pairs or small groups. We play games like tag to simulate the chasing and contact aspect of the sport. We often school around barrels or trees to give variety to keep the horses interested.

Our horses need to be confident and able to hold their position in what we call “riding off”. This is the contact element of the game where we are able to physically push another player out of the way to establish right of way to play the ball. Ride-offs must be performed at a safe angle and comparable speeds to be legal. We practice this at varying speeds and levels of contact and find that most horses take to it easily and like to push. When doing this in practice it is important to let the horse both win and lose ride-offs.

When horses are first introduced to the polo stick it is a non-threatening way. We usually go for quiet hack and begin by slowly swinging it. We make sure the horses are settled with the stick and that we can simulate every shot without it being worried, after which we introduce a ball. We begin using an arena polo ball, which is softer and bigger than a normal polo ball, before graduating to the smaller standard ball, which makes a sharper sound when struck.

Once basic stick work and shot play has been absorbed, we take horses to young horse chukkas, a practice match with a group of people all on green horses. We play fluid games and aim to keep the horses moving forward, putting all we have taught them in to practice but with no pressure on them. We start these at a trot or very slow canter and progressively get faster as the horses progress.

Alongside these chukkas, we take some of the younger horses to tournaments to use them to umpire on, a great avenue for green horses to get on the field and settle with other horses galloping and competing around them. This process can be a little more difficult for racehorses to master initially. A polo horse also spends a lot of its time before and after it plays tied to the truck with the other playing horses on the day. This can be a challenge for some young horses and often takes a while for some to get used to.

Polo Horses Katie Edmeades - Issue 17

After our young horses have showed progress and have participated in chukkas relatively successfully, they go out for a well deserved spell, allowing them time to relax and absorb their education to date. Depending on their age and ability, some come in again for another campaign of young horse chukkas, while the more advanced and physically mature step up to the main playing string. They play mostly a lower level of polo for their first season, and if up to it we integrate them into the higher levels for a couple of minutes at a time. This enables them to experience the game at a faster pace without the pressure of having to perform for a whole seven minutes.

The process of training a polo pony is a long and slow one, but being able to experience and develop a horse throughout their progression to an elite polo pony provides a great sense of achievement. To be a part of and see a horse realise their potential at the highest levels within Australia and abroad is immensely satisfying and rewarding when it all comes together.

To find out more about TRT’s work, visit www.trt.org.au



Edited by Gay3 - 05 Oct 2014 at 12:47pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Oct 2014 at 11:22am

A well written post on the rehoming of ex racehorses... alot of truth in this post

Hey guys, I am noticing alot of people are commenting on how so many OTTers end up in the sales, or on dogger pages, one girl even post a photo of an 11 year old horse where the caption even says that the horse obviously hasn't done anything in a while.... this is just a bit of education, just because its a TB and has a brand, and has raced once upon a time, it doesn't mean the ''racing industry'' put it there, chances are, it was once rehomed by the race owner, to what they were told would be a good loving home, only to be sold on, and sold on and sold on.... next thing, its skinny, neglected, and on a doggers page, that is NOT racing that put it there, it is horse people outside of racing. We see it time and time again. We also see ex trainers/owners seeing their once beloved racehorse on a dogger page, and racing off to save it and bring it home. Some recent examples are Modern Warfare and also Heppell, so before it's assumed racing has discarded of all the ex racehorses you see at the doggers, or going through the sales, do some research on where they have been recently.....

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Nov 2014 at 8:36pm
A few more facts/figures Smile

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote subastral Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Nov 2014 at 8:46pm
Such a bizarre statement that he doesn't know the exact number of deaths. Who proof-reads this?? If I was an activist, I would seize on this lack of knowledge as a sign the industry isn't doing enough to track every horse and learn how/why it died.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Nov 2014 at 9:02am
Larry Pickering
CRUELTY TO HORSES?

Blimey! 150,000 read the post, just on face book, and I tried to scan through 500 comments and with a rough count I would say about 65% think I’m a sweetheart. That’s okay, even my wife thinks I’m a sweetheart, but fair dinkum the misinformation proffered about horses is gobsmacking.

So please let me explain. I have been around horses all my life, I owned and ran a racing and breeding complex in Mangrove Mountain NSW, complete with a veterinary clinic, an operating theatre and a pathology unit. I studied equine pathology and can read a blood test like a book.

(In fact no horse of mine started without a blood test to determine its well being on the morning of a race. If the test showed up any anomaly the horse was scratched.)

Each of 100 stables was made of ironbark logs, without a single nail, and each had a grassy yard at the rear and all stables were covered by a verandah above a fog-sprayed fernery that reeked of jasmine and kept the stables at a constant temperature.

I had up to 130 horses at any one time with about 30 in racing including for some famous owners including all of Russ Hinze’s horses, at one time, and a few of my own. All the horses lived in five star accommodation and wanted for nothing.

They had a huge kidney shaped pool where they could safely swim unattended. All had regular trips to Terrigal beach and after each race they were turned out in an open paddock. My horses never needed spelling.

If any of my staff were found to have been cruel to any animal for any reason it was instant dismissal.

I have experienced racing at its best in France and I have ridden a 100/1 winner at Canterbury Racecourse in Sydney (I know you won’t believe that, but I wouldn’t lie to you).

Now, to be honest, I have never witnessed such verballing and uninformed, ignorant garbage from the animal rightists who invaded my post regarding the unfortunate death of Admire Rakti in the Melbourne Cup.

The horse did not have a “known” heart condition. I said it was “suspected” because of continued reversals in form. Regular cardiograms would have normally detected that condition, but it’s not always the case.

It may have been because of bleeding (a lung condition) but that would have been picked up via scoping.

The horse was obviously in fine physical condition and, contrary to what is being said, was vetted prior to the race with no anomaly found.

It is simply not true to say horses don’t like to race each other. Put them in an open paddock and watch, or find a tape of Black Caviar, (pictured).

They are bred from horses who love to race in the same way golden retrievers are bred from dogs who love to retrieve.

Now, for those who want the whip banned. It’s almost impossible to hurt you, let alone a horse, with the modern whip. It’s about re-directing a horse’s attention on what it’s supposed to be doing.

A horse will quite often refuse an opening or will be quite happy to compete with a horse running seventh.

Banning the whip is likely to cause serious accidents because you have taken away an important handling and steering tool for the jockey. You cannot steer a horse at full gallop because the loose reins are being thrown at it.

Serious accidents cause fatalities in every sport. Would you deny a racing driver a steering wheel?

Now for those who don’t understand the hemispheres of a horse’s brain:

A horse can only feel pain from one part of its body at the same time. It’s more complicated than that but if you want to give a horse an injection and it’s not keen on injections, you pinch it somewhere else or twitch its nose and it will not feel the needle, because its attention is diverted to another point.

The horse was originally a predated, wild plains animal and, as such, has a huge spleen, we have a small spleen that is almost obsolete in terms of its role.

The spleen of a horse, which carries a reserve of pure red cells, is triggered to release a gallon of them into the system when the adrenal gland is triggered. The wild predatory animal like a lion is the same.

A cheetah is the fastest animal alive. When excited, it dumps pure red, oxygenated cells from its spleen to its blood system. The trouble with this is the blood’s plasma, the white cells, can carry only a finite amount of red cells.

It’s much like a garden hose full of marbles.

There is a finite quantity of water to carry the marbles (red cells) to where they are needed. Increase the marbles and there is less water (plasma) to carry them. The marbles will eventually clog and come to a stop. So will the animal.

A cheetah can go fast but only for a very short distance, and that’s why a horse (a predated animal) will also sprint, but only for a short distance.

This process strengthens the species of both predatory and predated animals. The one that gets caught doesn’t get to breed the one that catches does.

When a jockey has timed his run correctly, he urges the horse forward at a certain point in the race, the adrenal gland triggers the splenic release and affords the horse a huge boost in oxygenated red cells, but only for a short distance. Maybe as short as 200m.

If the jockey has timed his run well, the horse’s blood will turn to a thick useless gunk right on the winning post.

This is why it is essential a horse relaxes in the initial part of a race. Even a short race. Badly trained horses that jump out of the barriers and take off like cut snakes stop just as quickly, and for good reason.

A stayer is not disadvantaged by distance as posters say here. A horse has either slow- or fast-twitch muscles and a biopsy will determine which.

Much like one athlete will excel at 100m another at middle distance and another will excel at the marathon. A stayer is bred to relax and a sprinter is bred to explode.

Now for those who think by not going into a barrier stall a horse is showing an aversion to race. Not true! Horses get claustrophobic like humans do and they don’t like being touched on the flanks.

My horses never played up at the start because I regularly put their feed bins in the barrier stalls at home. Then they had no problem going in.

The racing game is a wonderful game but it does have its darker side. The side the AJC and the VRC are desperate not to be known.

I once set a horse for a race in Sydney and, when I legged the jockey up, I told him that the horse could not be beaten. He looked at me in the eye and said, “Not today Larry.”

I knew exactly what he meant, thank Christ. He had saved me and the owners a fortune in bets. The race was what is commonly known as a “boat race”.

Okay I was a bit hard on the vegetarians. I apologise, but it is my reaction to someone I know who is a vegan and won’t allow her dog to eat meat. She may have a choice herself, but her poor dog is genetically carnivorous and it’s damned cruel to refuse a dog its natural diet. But I have an aversion to vegans anyway.

I agree on one point, The Golden Slipper has broken down more potentially good horses than any other feature race and Tommy Smith was a master at it.

He would break down 100 horses to get 6 tough ones. I disagree that a 2yo race should ever be a feature event.

But honestly, most of what the complainants say here is just plain nonsense and shows an ignorance of what exactly a horse is all about.

If they want to see real cruelty to animals just watch the halal slaughter of a steer. And it happens right here in our suburbs.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote acacia alba Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Nov 2014 at 11:06am
Oh goodness, Larry !  That last sentence will see you hung drawn and quartered by the great mob of ignorants .
animals before people.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Nov 2014 at 11:31am
LOL Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2014 at 12:02pm
Not exactly OTT but a story worth telling thanks to Kristen Manning writing for Isyndicate:

I have been tracking the Echuca sales for the Australian Racing Board, and collating the numbers of thoroughbreds offered compared to other breeds. I have also collected the results, to see whether horses are sold to private buyers or not. Over six weeks, there have been 616 horses of all breeds auctioned, including 83 Thoroughbreds of all ages. Only 14% of horses auctioned are bought by the local knackery, and this story is about one of the 86% that are sold to private homes.

Note: If a knackery has humane practices, then they fulfill a practical (although sad) necessary service. Not every horse owner has the ability to bury a large animal. Not every horse is suitable for re-homing, due to temperament or injury. The figures show that those that are suitable are finding homes via these auctions.


From broken spirit to a winner

There were just two bidders vying for the well related Tycoon Georgia at an Echuca horse sale two years ago.

Had Meagan Abaloz not won – though there was never a chance she would not – the daughter of Written Tycoon would no longer be with us.

It did not take a huge amount of money, a mere $280, for Meagan to secure Tycoon Georgia and she considers that sum the best money she has ever spent.

Fortunately for Tycoon Georgia a caring friend of Meagan’s spied her in a pen at the Echuca sale and posted a photo of the bay on Facebook.

And she immediately caught Meagan’s attention.

“I just saw the sadness in her eyes.”

“She pulled at the heartstrings.”

“That was late the night before the sale and first thing the next morning I rang my friend who was going.”

With three simple words – “I want her.”

And so Tycoon Georgia had a new, loving home.

And she needed that love – arriving at Meagan’s in poor condition.

“She was under-fed, her legs were swollen, she was not a happy horse.”

Plenty of TLC ensued – good feed, plenty of time in the paddock, a nice thick rug.

The months passed and the mare nicknamed “Spirit” thrived. So much so that she was ready to enter the next phase of her life – the one she was actually bred for.

Asking her parents Margaret and Richard if they’d be interested in racing Tycoon Georgia, Meagan was thrilled when they agreed.

And so Spirit joined the Pakenham stables of Dianne Clover, for whom Megan has worked for the last twelve years.

The plan was for the filly to have one educational start and then head out again, and that is what happened.

Six months out in the paddock after an unplaced debut and Tycoon Georgia was all the more mature and ready for another crack at racing.

Resuming at the Woolamai picnic meeting in February, Tycoon Georgia misbehaved at the barriers (“she got a fright when they shut the gate behind her”), throwing her rider.

She ran third but was ordered to trial. The following month she returned to Woolamai and had her proud owners cheering as she approached the turn several lengths in front.

But she was still green and again she had to trial after running out so badly at the turn that she “ended up on the outside rail!”

She still managed second but the picnic season was coming to a close by then so Tycoon Georgia had a couple of starts at TAB level before another break.

It was last Saturday at Balnarring that she resumed.

Everyone who loves her was there – Meagan, Margaret, Richard, the mare’s track-rider Paul Kramer (who Meagan thanks for his guiding hand teaching Tycoon Georgia how to be a race horse) and his wife Heidi, Dianne Clover.

Friends, family, supporters. All holding their breath as Tycoon Georgia showed her usual pace to take an early lead.

Ridden by Michael Kent Jnr, Tycoon Georgia gave a kick at the turn – and away she went. Her jockey had the time to take a cheeky look behind to see where her rivals were.

Not that Meagan noticed that at the time. All she saw was her pride and joy a length in front at the line.

Pausing when asked to explain that feeling, Meagan understandably found it hard to put it into words.

“To see her go from a filly with a broken spirit, from the horse nobody wanted – to a winner… well it was one of the best moments of my life.”

Tycoon Georgia didn’t need to be a winner for Meagan to love the horse she describes as “an absolute sweetheart who you can do anything with” – but the victory is a reward for all the pair have been through together.

And this is just the start of the story with Tycoon Georgia to be a part of Meagan’s life forever.

Tycoon Georgia, whose dam is a half-sister to last week’s Flemington Group Three winner Vain Queen, is well bred enough to be a broodmare but a life of leisure is on the cards.

“When she finishes racing she will spend the rest of her life with me,” Meagan said, “there is no money that could buy her.”

Meagan is not sure where her love of horses came from, but it has always been with her.

“When I was ten I asked my parents for a horse – Dad said if I was still passionate about it at Christmas time when I was 12 they’d consider it.”

“Three weeks before that Christmas I asked again – Dad thought I would’ve forgotten by then!”

And so “Polly,” an Arab quarter-horse cross became Meagan’s first equine pet, much loved for eight years before passing away aged 30 – buried at home.

Meagan’s second horse “Dusty,” a thoroughbred son of Plush, is still going strongly aged 23 and there are several other retired racehorses – and a Standardbred – in her care.

Lucky horses indeed!

HOOFNOTE: Tycoon Georgia was bred by a trainer who took the time to find her a good home. Sadly the people she was passed onto did the wrong thing. She was fortunately saved but others are not. There are several Facebook pages devoted to finding homes for such horses (though thankfully the minority are thoroughbreds)… please have a look and help if you can!


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Munga Rangi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2014 at 10:17pm
There are a lot of good souls giving their time and expertise to  help rehome as many of the lots at the Echuca saleyards as possible. There have been some wonderful stories out of there. Facebook Page HAAP Horses at Auction Preview Thumbs UpThumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Dec 2014 at 1:49pm

Retiring racehorses leave the track to take on second career in the equestrian world

Updated

After winning more than $2 million in his career, racing overseas in Japan, France, the US and winning the King's Stand Stakes in front of the Queen, there was little that thoroughbred Scenic Blast had left to achieve.

He won three group one races in 2009 and was named Australian Horse of the Year.

But, like others, an injury put paid to any further racing and he had to be retired from the track.

Hundreds of other horses leave the racecourse behind each year, and while some are put out to pasture, others are either rehomed or find a second career in the equestrian industry.

A small number may have to be euthanased if they have been injured.

But Judith Medd, the racing industry veterinarian for Racing and Wagering WA (RWWA), said claims by animal activists that racehorses were routinely euthanased were simply not true.

"The claims they were making is that there were a significant number of allegedly healthy, fit horses that were being discarded as a result of finishing from racing and we just knew that wasn't the case," she said.

Their agility, their speed, their courage, their bravery, they're willing to please, they're the sort of attributes that...makes them very good all rounders for...eventing and show jumping.

Sharon Joyce

"Euthanasia is usually a last resort and even for racing trainers, it's always in my experience been a last resort.

"Obviously some horses have injuries and like any animal, if it's got an injury that isn't able to be treated, then euthanasia may be the most appropriate course and that would be the same for a racehorse or a dog or a cat."

Scenic Blast fractured his near side hind leg in a trackwork gallop.

He spent 18 months in recovery and is now in the care of Sharon Joyce who runs RWWA's Off The Track program which supports the transition of racehorses into new careers.

Equestrian riders value 'willing to please' racehorses

Ms Joyce said the equestrian industry, which has disciplines including dressage, show jumping and eventing, as well as polo, polo cross, pony clubs, and adult riding clubs, was keen to have retired thoroughbreds.

"Their agility, their speed, their courage, their bravery, they're willing to please, they're the sort of attributes that owners and riders like when they looking for a horse so that makes them very good all rounders for things like eventing and show jumping," she said.

"The standardbreds [trotters] are known to have a bit of a more warm temperament, they're not such hot-blooded animals, so they're good for pony club riders or adult riding club riders, so those maybe starting out in the equestrian world."

Ms Medd said for many years equestrian riders would buy European sports horses known as warmbloods but these were expensive.

"Warmbloods can be very, very suitable for disciplines like show jumping and dressage but the thoroughbred, because they have a lot of speed, endurance and stamina, they can also be very suitable for these disciplines," she said.

"What we're now starting to find is that a good thoroughbred will actually be much better than an average European warmblood, particularly for eventing - where they go over jumps and cross country.

"They have to go over those jumps in a certain time so they do have a time limit and if you get a clear round, and you don't knock any of the jumps, then it's obviously awarded to the person who's gone round the fastest time.

"Thoroughbreds are very, very good at that; the warmbloods have a good jump but they're not often that fast so a lot of people use thoroughbreds for eventing."

They have also found retired horses for Riding for the Disabled.

Ms Joyce estimates she has found new homes for about 60 horses.

'Rehome a Racehorse' on Facebook

Early last year, Linda Brenzi and Jade Proctor, who work as clerks of course at Perth Racing, decided there was a need to do something for horses once they finished at the track.

The pair set up "Rehome a Racehorse" on Facebook.

"What I like to do is turn thoroughbreds into show horses once they finish racing," Ms Brenzi said.

"So quite often I'd be getting asked by trainers or strappers, would I like to take on a horse once it had finished, and obviously I can't take everything because I don't have the money or the property or the time.

That's the link that has been missing so people who do show jumping and eventing and pony clubs are now able to find horses that are straight off the track.

Linda Brenzi

"We created this site so basically the trainers, owners or strappers could come to us with the racing name, all the details of the horse, photos, and what we do is we put it on our page.

"What it's doing is linking the outside equestrian community to the racing industry.

"I think that's the link that has been missing so people who do show jumping and eventing and pony clubs are now able to find horses that are straight off the track.

"What was happening was people [didn't] know how to get hold of a horse in the racing industry. If you're not involved in the industry, you don't actually have access to these horses so it's linking the two worlds together now."

The pair has so far rehomed 250 horses.

"At the end of the day, if we don't do anything, it's the horses that suffer," Ms Brenzi said.

Record of retiring racehorses now kept

Ms Brenzi said they also attended the sales to prevent unwanted horses going to the knackery.

"We go to the sales and photograph the ones that are left over because anybody that puts them in unreserved, if nobody buys, it then basically that's where they go," she said.

We're starting to get really good figures now that the number of horses successfully retired to breeding and the equestrian industry is about 85 per cent.

Judith Medd

"This year, we've actually rehomed the whole lot so none have ended up there from those sales."

For many years, it was not known what happened to racehorses when they retired as records were not kept.

That changed this year with rules put in place by the Australian Racing Board, Ms Medd said.

"The new rule is that when a thoroughbred retires from racing the owner has to fill in a form and send it back to the registrar of racehorses, indicating where that horse has retired to and what it's going to do," she said.

"A lot of horses will go into the breeding industry and a lot will go into the equestrian industry to be used as sport horses.

"We're starting to get really good figures now that the number of horses successfully retired to breeding and the equestrian industry is about 85 per cent."

For those racehorses taken up by the equestrian industry, there are many fans.

As a rider and horse lover, Ms Joyce is keen to see Scenic Blast back competing.

"We're doing a bit of dressage and a bit of jumping - we'll be out competing next year," she said.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Geraldo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Dec 2014 at 6:36am
Just read the polo article.  So, if a polo pony's best years is 6-8yo that means they need to be rehomed again shortly after that?
TBV - where it is the Silly Season all year round.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Dec 2014 at 8:57am
Quite likely go on to lower grades, polocrosse or even bred from as most seem to be mares. Some'd be used for umpiring too I guess.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jan 2015 at 9:34am

Robinson's love for her 'Cat with nine lives'

He’s tall, dark and handsome, with a broad chest and intelligence to boot.

With a profile like that  it’s easy to see how Kirsty McMahon fell head-over-heels in love with retired racehorse, Cats Fun.

The Warrnambool-based pre-trainer has been a constant in Cats Fun’s life since he transferred across from Perth to trainer Jarrod McLean’s Yangery stables in early 2009.

  • McMahon had been warned of the gelding’s roguish ways, with McLean cautioning not to put the galloper in a paddock alone as ‘he’d be impossible to catch’.

    “What did I do? I put him in a paddock on his own without thinking,” McMahon said with a laugh.

    Yet there was something about McMahon that had the normally difficult gelding enamoured. Cats Fun trotted straight to the pre-trainer, signalling the first moment of kindness in a friendship that would last far beyond his racing days.

“I’ve always been obsessed with the horse and he’s always been obsessed with me back. It takes most people a bit of time to really win him over but we just clicked from the start,” she said.

It should come as no surprise that Cats Fun returned to racing with relish having undergone a period of pre-training with McMahon, with the decision by McLean to send Cats Fun over the jumps quickly paying dividends for the pair.


  • The hulking gelding relished the change of scenery, his dominant win in the 2013 Brierly Steeplechase at Warrnambool a clear highlight of McMahon’s time in racing.

    “I was so proud of him that day, nothing will ever top that day on the racetrack for me ever,” she said.

    Cats Fun’s tenacity on the track has transferred to his life post-racing, with McMahon affectionately re-naming her mate ‘cat with nine lives’ – and with good reason, too.


The gelding has faced death on three occasions with a serious bout of colic, a staph infection and an adverse reaction to penicillin all troubling the retired galloper.

Yet, he has always managed to pull through.

“I told him when he was sick with his colic back in 2009 that if he pulled through he’d a have a home for life with me, and he pulled through the cheeky bugger,” McMahon said.


Cats Fun was retired in August 2014 and has been loving life off the track with McMahon ever since.

He is regarded as the mascot of the Warrnambool Pony Club where McMahon is an adult member. Cats Fun is no stranger to Pony Club life, having become a regular attendee over the past five years while in Victoria.

McMahon has plans to start eventing with Cats Fun in the future, but for now is just happy to spend time hacking around a paddock and showering her best bud with affection.

“We’ll get along and do more things off the track in the future, but at the moment I’m just enjoying that he’s mine,” she said.

“He’ll keep getting lots of kisses and cuddles and scratches and we’ll head out riding whenever we can. He gets away with murder here with me, but he’s found his home for life for sure. I don’t know what I’d do without him.”

By Daniel Miles - @DanielMiles90



Edited by Gay3 - 02 Jan 2015 at 9:38am
Experience is something you gain a few minutes after you could have used it!
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