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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Retirees racing ahead in new off-the-track careers

ABOVE: Dressage horse of the year Temple of the Sun and Emily Aitkenhead. Picture: EQUINE IMAGES VICTORIA

VICTORIA’S annual awards for off-the-track Thoroughbreds and re-trainers have been presented at a luncheon at Werribee Mansion hosted by the program’s organising bodies, Racing Victoria and Equestrian Victoria.

The awards for the 2021-22 season included specific acknowledgement for performances in several equestrian disciplines, as well as the people who helped get the horses there.

The Acknowledged Retrainer of the Year Award recognises the achievements of equine experts preparing retired racehorses for secondary careers.

Owner and director of JW Equestrian, Jade Willis, has taken out the award for her unwavering commitment to finding alternative, useful and loving homes for retired racehorses, resulting in more than 200 off-the-track Thoroughbreds being rehomed in the past two years.

Lisa Coffey from Racing Hearts was the winner of the inaugural Emerging Acknowledged Retrainer of the Year Award.

Bashboy, riden by Isabella Lloyd and owned by Ian MacDonald, won the Jumping Horse of the Year Award. He won his first race over hurdles at Warrnambool during the 2010 May Racing Carnival. At the same venue six years later he brought the curtain down on an illustrious career, which yielded more than $1 million in prizemoney – a relatively rare feat for a jumps horse.

Following his retirement from racing, Bashboy was sent to Isabella Lloyd to be retrained for the next phase of his career. The two struck up an instant rapport and together they have achieved some notable results, which now includes being named the OTT Jumping Horse of the Year.

ABOVE: Event horse of the year Secret Mojo and Murray Lamperd. Picture: TAZZIE EGGINS

Secret Mojo, the OTT Eventing Horse of the Year, is pretty good at showjumping as well for rider Murray Lamperd and owner Raenor Priest.

St Andrews and Natalie McKay, the OTT Show Horse of the Year, have had an amazing year with wins at The Barastoc Horse of the Year show, Canberra Royal and taking the Pope Cup for horses with Thorougbred qualities at Royal Melbourne Show.

Temple of the Sun and Emily Aitkenhead won the OTT Dressage Horse of the Year.

Emily said she was thrilled with her horse’s ability to master a new career.

“It’s crazy to think that this time last year, I was only a few months into his retraining and having serious doubts about his future as a performance horse,” she said. “Full credit to Rooster for being able to quash those doubts in such a short space of time.”

The long-standing association between Racing Victoria and Equestrian Victoria has seen an increase in the number of off-the-track Thoroughbreds competing in equestrian events since the introduction of the Off-The-Track Program in 2012.

Racing Victoria announced at the awards that it has renewed its partnership with Equestrian Victoria for the 2022-23 season of the Off-The-Track program.

Off-the track classes will again be included at Barastoc Horse of the Year (February, 2023), The Summer Show (January, 2023) and Melbourne International 3 Day Event (June, 2023), as well as the Owner Rider Show (December, 2022) and the Wandin Park International Horse Event (March 2023).

ABOVE: Show horse of the year St Andrews and Natalie McKay. Picture: ANGIE RICKARD

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