Star racehorses step out for thoroughbred welfare

Ping Hai Star, left,  and Werther will begin their NZTR ambassador campaign at Trentham today.
Ping Hai Star, left, and Werther will begin their NZTR ambassador campaign at Trentham today. Photo: Supplied

Two former Hong Kong Derby winners are making a special appearance at Trentham Racecourse in New Zealand today, in their new roles as thoroughbred welfare ambassadors.

Thoroughbred geldings Werther (by Tavistock) and Ping Hai Star (by Nom Du Jeu) are parading after the second race, around 1.20pm, in their new role as NZ Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) welfare ambassadors.

Werther twice won the Hong Kong Horse of the Year title, and Ping Hai Star fashioned a brilliant record from a limited career in Hong Kong. Both won the 2000m Hong Kong Derby. They are now retired from racing and currently enjoy life as “nannies” at Palmerston North’s Highden Park.

Libby Bleakley, who along with husband Sam owns Highden Park, was delighted the geldings would be given the opportunity to promote horse welfare and the many opportunities available for retired thoroughbreds.

“These horses love having something to do, they love having a job. They look after weanlings for us and they go on the truck to keep mares company. I think they will thrive with this next step,” she said.

Online bloodstock sales company is also supporting the welfare ambassadors, having decked both horses out with custom-made halters.

The concept of Welfare Ambassadors is a new one for NZTR and is part of an ongoing programme around welfare and traceability.

“While those within the industry are well aware of the fact that our thoroughbreds, even in retirement, are extremely well looked after and often go on to rewarding second careers in other equestrian pursuits, there is a lot of misinformation out there,” Martin Burns, NZTR’s GM Welfare & Sustainability said.

“Allowing people to see horses like Werther and Ping Hai Star who have been foaled in New Zealand, raced here and offshore, and have now come back here to retire, helps reinforce the message that thoroughbreds are for life.”

» NZTR’s Thoroughbred Welfare and Assessment Guidelines

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