• Fran Cleland

Standardbred classes closing gap between racing and the show ring

MOST Standardbreds used to face an uncertain future at the end of their racing days, but how things have changed.

The numbers of “Standies” under saddle has increased so much they now have their own breeds and performance classes at big shows and can be found performing serenely in dressage arenas.

ABOVE: Grace Bilney with Grin Girl Grin.

Fiona Dearing has worked with a number of off-the-track Standardbreds and really admires them.


“There are so many words to describe the breed – trainable, good-minded, sensible and hardworking spring to mind,” she said.


“They’re super keen to try anything asked of them and genuinely love their work.

“It’s worth noting that the breed as a racehorse, in both trotters and pacers, has become faster over the last 20 to 30 years.


“As a result, they’ve also become a finer type of horse, making them much more attractive and athletic as a ridden horse than the stereotype people may think of when they think of Standardbreds.”


Sue Terry ran Standardbred classes for horses in training at the Tatura Classic Horse Show event last week.


“The idea of this class is for the sport horse riders and the racing trainers to meet and mingle,” Sue said.


“The industry participants are able to see the work that goes into dressage and this will hopefully get them interested enough to come along and watch the Standardbred derby we have in October.


“We plan a led class for the pony trotters at the same time as the derby.”

ABOVE: Mitch Fox and Kasbah Kid.

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) continues to work closely with Standardbred Pleasure and Performance Horse Associations (SPPHA) in each state to promote and support programs that provide opportunities for Standardbred horses across a wide range of equine pursuits.

HRV was at the show to film segments on Kasbah Kid and Mitch Fox and their successes.


The star of the show was the 2021 Interdominion winner is Boncel Benjamin, trained by Steven Duffy and owned and presented by Julie Duffy. Ben placed in his led class and is back in work for his second try at the championships.

The champion led and ridden Standardbred was Kasbah Kid, with the reserve going to Emily Larcombe’s Matilda May.


The led Standardbred in training classes placings were:


Led Male

1st Spencer, trainer Brett Bunfield, handler Rachelle Stevenson

2nd Explosive Bronski, trainer Mark Lee, handler Duncan Terry

3rd Rock on Winston, trainer Casey Leijen, handler Casey Leijen

4th Braloss Pass, trainer Mark Watson, handler Janelle Bunfield

5th Boncel Benjamin, trainer Steven Duffy, handler Julie Duffy

5th Holstien, trainer SJ O'Donoghue and RK Bartley, handler Anne O’Donoghue

6th Serengetty Sunrise, trainer Mark Lee, handler Stacey Towers


Led Female

1st Grin Girl Grin, trainer Craig Turnbull, handler Grace Bilney

2nd Firengrace, trainer Mark Lee, handler Stacey Towers

Led in training champion was Florenceofkintire, with the Reserve going to Spencer.


The Show Horse section was a little overshadowed by the Standardbreds, but there was high quality, especially for a winter event.


Winners included the show hunter pony, PP Royal Command and Zali Mills; winner open show galloway Rivoli Magic FF and T Snell/Sable Farms; winner show hunter hack, EBL Empress and Jess Dertell/Sable Farm; winner show hunter galloway Tenshi and T Snell/C Mills; and winner show hunter hack Desert Gold and L Glasscott.


The championship went to Jessica Dertell riding EBL Empress, and reserve to T Snell and Rivoli Magic FF.


ABOVE: (clockwise from top left) 1. Holstein was led by Anne O’Donoghue in the led male standardbred in training class; 2. Mitch Fox and champion led Standardbred Kasbah Kid. 3. Interdominion winner Boncel Benjamin. 4. Spencer from trainer Brett Bunfield was first in the male led Standardbred in training class.