A parade of retired racehorses takes place in the paddock from 1pm at Newmarket on Saturday 24th September, Juddmonte Day at the Cambridgeshire Meeting. The parade, kindly sponsored by Juddmonte, showcases six of the different disciplines that thoroughbreds are retrained for and which Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) supports through the staging of competitions and classes.
For over 20 years Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) has promoted the versatility of the thoroughbred and through its work, RoR has developed up an unprecedented demand for former racehorses in the wider equestrian market.
RoR annually stages over 40 separate competition series across 15 different disciplines exclusively for former racehorses, catering for all levels of ability, from grassroots to elite. The disciplines include dressage, endurance, eventing, polo, show jumping and showing. There are over 10,000 horses currently registered with RoR enjoying active and fulfilling careers after racing.
As well as developing an increased demand for former racehorses, RoR continues to provide a welfare safety net that ensures any racehorse in need of charitable support is quickly identified and suitably cared for.
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1. Dressage – SAINT GREGOIRE
Ridden by Louise Robson.
11-year-old gelding by Le Havre, formerly trained by Saeed bin Suroor.
Breeder: S A Franklin Finance.
Dressage is the most popular discipline for former racehorses and there is an extensive RoR programme that caters for every level, from grass roots to elite. More thoroughbreds now do dressage each year than run in steeple chases under rules.
Representing dressage in the parade is Saint Gregoire. Originally trained and raced in France, where we won six times, he came to Louise Robson via the Godolphin Rehoming Programme. Louise says he has a natural talent for ‘dressage flare’ and ‘dance’ and enjoys doing dressage to music classes the most.
He recently finished third at The Jockey Club RoR National Championships at Aintree in the Novice class and Louise says: “Saint Gregoire shows real potential for the higher levels of dressage, and I am really excited to see how far up the levels he will go. He is qualified for the British Dressage associate championships and Winter Regionals 2023 at Elementary level and will soon step up-to Medium level dressage.”
2. Endurance – ART MAURESQUE
Ridden by Hayley Gilmore.
12-year-old gelding by Policy Maker, formerly trained by Paul Nicholls.
Breeder: Michel Parreau-Delhote.
Endurance riding is competitive long-distance riding, often across stunning countryside, and several former racehorses find their niche doing it. Distances vary from the entry level of 16km right through to elite level where horses will do a 160km in a day.
Art Mauresque enjoyed a successful NH career, winning nine races under Rules, before being retired in December 2020, after which Hayley Gilmore took him on. Initially, Hayley and Art Mauresque did a bit of everything, including show jumping and cross-country, but it soon became apparent that endurance is what he loved, so they started on their endurance adventure.
He qualified for the National Novice Championships in Lincolnshire and for the team RoR endurance championships in Wales. Hayley says: “Art Mauresque has really taken to endurance, and he enjoys going to new places. Next year our plan is to increase our distance and move up to open and maybe advanced, I am very much looking forward to that with this special horse.”
3. Eventing – MOUNT CONERO
Ridden by Hetty Keyes.
14-year-old gelding by Fruits of Love, formerly trained by Mrs S J Stearn.
Breeder: Paddy Walsh.
Comprising three different disciplines, dressage, show jumping and cross-country, eventing is a demanding discipline, but one at which many former racehorses thrive, including at Olympic level.
Mount Conero was family owned and trained for a somewhat undistinguished point-to-point career. Retired aged nine, owner Penny Stearn decided to give her daughter Hetty the opportunity to see what Mount Conero could achieve in an alternative career.
Mount Conero quickly showed an aptitude for eventing and took to cross-country like a duck to water. He has competed at BE90 and 100 and has been placed nearly every time, with a highlight being third in the RoR Eventing Championships at Tweseldown. To date he has competed at 19 BE events and numerous unaffiliated events and has never had a fault cross-country. Hetty says, “Mount Conero really is a horse of a lifetime and he holds a special place in all our hearts.”
4. Polo – FINAL SPRING
Ridden by Chris Milton.
9-year-old mare by Zebedee, formerly trained by Jim Goldie.
Breeder: Miss Mary Davison.
Polo has long been a second career option for former racehorses but the popularity of thoroughbreds in polo has increased in recent years. The best polo prospects tend to be smaller ex-flat horses and they are often mares.
In six starts, Final Spring only once managed to finish in front of another horse, but that has not stopped her being a success in her second career. She began her journey into polo in 2018 and moved to current rider Chris Milton the following year.
Now one of Chris’s professional playing string, Final Spring is a powerful horse, not afraid to take contact in ride-offs, while always staying light and nibble on her feet through stops and turns. Chris says: “Final Spring has a wonderful nature, always keeping a level head on the field, and is a firm favourite on the yard. Next season Final Spring will continue her polo career with a view to playing better and better polo as her experience continues to grow.”
5. Show jumping – GAUL WOOD
Ridden by Debbie Heise.
13-year-old gelding by Amadeus Wood, formerly trained by Tom Dascombe.
Breeder: Patrick J Monahan.
Requiring a stride pattern the opposite of that which a horse uses when racing, show jumping is not the easiest discipline for former racehorses to adapt to. However, many have turned their ‘hoof’ to it successfully.
Gaul Wood retired from racing in 2013 having won three races on the Flat. He arrived at Debbie Heise’s in spring 2014 and the pair have since formed a fantastic partnership. They finished second in their first affiliated British Show-jumping class in July 2014 and have had consistent results ever since, with the highlight coming this summer when they won the 1m Open at the Royal International at Hickstead. They went on to win the RoR Bronze League at the BS National Championships in August.
Debbie says: “Gaul Wood is everyone’s favourite, full of personality and is a gentle kind soul. His previous owners are still in contact and love to watch his progress. He is our horse of a lifetime and we are privileged to have him.”
6. Showing – LIMATO
Ridden by Katie Jerram-Hunnable.
10-year-old by Tagula, formerly trained by Henry Candy.
Breeder – Seamus Phelan.
After dressage, showing is the most popular second career activity for retired racehorses with over 5,000 registered on the RoR database as competitors in showing events. With the support of Tattersalls, RoR stages 170 showing classes exclusively for thoroughbreds annually nationwide from Aberdeenshire to Cornwall.
A former top-class sprinter and the winner of an amazing 14 of his 33 races, including the 2016 July Cup, Limato has been in the care of renowned showing producer Katie Jerram-Hunnable since he retired from racing in autumn 2020. Having settled into his new career, Limato is enjoying life in the show ring.
This year Katie and Limato qualified for the Tattersalls RoR Show Series Final at Hickstead, finished runner-up at the Royal Windsor Horse Show and won a class at The Jockey Club RoR National Championships at Aintree in August. His supportive owner Paul Jacobs continues to monitor and enjoy his progress.