TBs prove they’re more than just racehorses

Judge David Quayle (Aus) with Tina Sergeant-Boyce aboard Carlton Extreme Edition - winner of the 'Shaune Ritchie Racing' Ridden Thoroughbred Showing Horse title at the 2012 New Zealand Horse of the Year Show.
Judge David Quayle (Aus) with Tina Sergeant-Boyce aboard Carlton Extreme Edition - winner of the 'Shaune Ritchie Racing' Ridden Thoroughbred Showing Horse title at the 2012 New Zealand Horse of the Year Show.

Many equestrians – especially those with a favourite ex-racer in the paddock – have known for years just how good New Zealand thoroughbreds can be.

And this is increasingly being recognised by breeders and competitors from much further afield – international show jumpers, eventers and even showing enthusiasts have cottoned on to the fact that Kiwi thoroughbred lines produce horses that excel at far more than racing alone.

More than a few of our thoroughbreds have been scooped up by overseas buyers, with one of the most recent exports, Black Tuxedo, heading to the UK to be competed by top eventer Zara Phillips.

This year the New Zealand bred “OTTB” – Off the track TB’s – had another shot at glory at the Horse of the Year Show, with titles on offer for both led and ridden horses, sponsored by Cambridge based trainer Shaune Ritchie.

Although some excellent types were put forward, the two eventual title winners were pinpointed for their thoroughbred quality, movement, conformation and performance.

The winner of the Ridden Thoroughbred Showing Horse was the seven-year-old Carlton Extreme Edition ridden by Tina Sergeant-Boyce. This striking chestnut gelding also took out the Debutante Show Hack of the Year title, and his rider was thrilled to claim two titles at the hotly contested show.

“Donny” is by Don Tristram and out of Heaven’s Charm. He was bred by Highview Stud and was bought by Sergeant-Boyce from the Karaka Yearling Sales.

“My mother and I broke him in along with four other racehorses. He was gelded late hence why he is so colty now! He raced as a two year old but was not a pocket rocket like the others so he was turned out for a few years, brought back into work and then was given to me.  He was trained by mum and I which makes the win at the Horse of the Year Show in the thoroughbred title all that more special.”

The horse that stood head and shoulders above the rest in the Led Thoroughbred Showing Horse of the Year was the exquisite Vincenzo, co-owned and produced by showing star Natacha Otto.

Vincenzo, by Galileo (IRE) was purchased at the Sydney Easter Sales and was raced by New Zealand trainer Richard Otto. Vincenzo then headed back to Australia to be trained by Shaun Dwyer (QLD), then Lee Freedman (VIC) before contracting a virus, which sadly stopped his racing career in its tracks.

Vincenzo was returned to the Ottos in Te Awamutu to recover and after rehabilitation competed in several horse trials events before commencing his new role as a show hack last season. Vincenzo has more than proved that he has what it takes to excel at any task that is thrown at him. At the 2011 NZ Horse of the Year Show he won the Debutante Show Hack of the Year title and was Runner Up Show Hack of the Year. This year, after Vincenzo’s win in the Led Thoroughbred Showing Horse of the Year with Ben Thompson as handler, he capped off a perfect week by winning the Show Hack of the Year title with Vanessa Everton in the saddle.

The judges were understandably impressed with the standard of horse put forward. David Quayle, an Australian judge and successful competitor was pleased to see the thoroughbred’s contribution to equestrian sport being recognised.

“New Zealand is fortunate to have some lovely thoroughbred horses being bred due the high-level racing and breeding culture within the country,” Quayle said.

“We’re lucky to have some very similar types in Australia as both countries share many of the same stallions. Zabeel has been a sire of many lovely and successful show horses in both New Zealand and Australia.  Certainly with the Show Hunter class in Australia (known as Saddle Hunter Horse in New Zealand) becoming more popular, the demand for the ex-racehorse is getting larger,” he said.

“Having previously attended the Karaka Yearling Sales in New Zealand, I’ve seen first-hand the many suitable types for showing in the parade ring.

“In Australia, some people are even buying thoroughbreds as weanlings or yearlings to start the horse’s showing career early.  I have previously won the Pope Cup at the Sydney Royal Easter Show (which is awarded based on thoroughbred qualities in conformation as well as movement), so I really enjoyed the dedicated thoroughbred titles at the New Zealand Horse of the Year Show and was pleased to be able to judge the ‘Shaune Ritchie Racing’ Ridden Thoroughbred Showing Horse of the Year.

“The best and most successful show horses are still thoroughbreds, meaning these animals can enjoy a second career after they have finished racing.  There were some lovely types in the ridden thoroughbred title that I judged.  That is what you are looking for in such a class – a true thoroughbred type and the horse that won fitted the bill and worked well,” Quayle said.

The quality of the New Zealand thoroughbreds working out in the show ring demonstrated just how adaptable the breed is and showed that the end of a racing career doesn’t have to mean the end of everything.

Elizabeth Charleston, Assistant Showing Convenor at the 2012 New Zealand Horse of the Year Show, was extremely happy with the turnout and appreciative of the support from members of the racing community.

“It was wonderful to have backing from one of New Zealand’s leading racehorse trainers for the Led and Ridden Thoroughbred titles,” Charleston said.

“It made for an exciting week when only a matter of days after the Shaune Ritchie Racing sponsored titles at our show, Shaune took out the quinella in the New Zealand Oaks at Trentham with his horses Artistic and Zurella. At a time when sponsorship dollars are hard to come by it was great that Shaune and his wife Alison were prepared to get behind the Horse of the Year Show.  All of the sponsors at this huge event are very much appreciated as the show would not be what it is without them.”

Ritchie said he was only too happy to help, citing how important it is that ex-racehorses go on to live comfortable, productive lives, even after their days on the track are over.

“Racing is a highly competitive game, as is the show arena at the Horse of the Year Show,” Ritchie said. “All of our staff at Shaune Ritchie Racing are horse lovers foremost and we are delighted that these remarkable equine athletes can find good homes after their racing careers and be kept in the best possible care.

“It is extremely pleasing that these thoroughbred horses go on to compete in the show arenas, polo fields and on the cross-country courses around New Zealand and overseas where they can retain a healthy outlook for their future.  My wife Alison and I were proud to be a sponsor at the New Zealand Horse of the Year Show this year.”



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One thought on “TBs prove they’re more than just racehorses

  • April 3, 2012 at 8:38 am

    No regrets on adopting Mr. Shaun, my NZ ottb. He’s kind, sensitive, playful and a lovely soul. I hear the NZ horses have a bit of a better life than the ottb’s here in the U.S. Maybe that’s why they are so special.
    “It was once said I should clear my head for one cannot ride a Thoroughbred. Hot they are. And too fast they be. Forever on the fly. But I stayed the course and have no remorse. I love my off the track racehorse!”


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