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NZ puts focus on sport horse careers for thoroughbreds

Jonathan Paget and Clifton Promise on their victory lap.

2013 Badminton winner Clifton Promise, a New Zealand thoroughbred, and Jonathan Paget. © Mike Bain

A new initiative between racing and sport horse governing bodies in New Zealand is recognising the importance of thoroughbreds in equestrian sports in the country.

Equestrian Sports New Zealand (ESNZ) and New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) announced a joint initiative today which aims to increase the opportunities for off-the-track thoroughbreds (OTTBs) and raise awareness of the breed and its adaptability for second careers in equestrian sport.

The initiative follows long-overdue moves around the world in helping support thoroughbreds after they have finished racing.

“Thoroughbreds in Equestrian Sport” (TiES) also aims to increase links between the racing industry, the wider equestrian community and the public to stimulate uptake of ex-racehorses for second careers.

An integral part of this initiative will be consulting with aftercare specialists and examining ways to increase opportunities for ex-racehorses in equestrian sport.

Matthew Goodson, Chairman of NZTR, said those in the racing industry recognised that it is in the interests of both the horse and the industry, and all its participants, including breeders, trainers, jockeys and stable staff, to maintain sound horse welfare programmes. “That extends to the welfare of our retiring racehorses and horses which do not make it to the races.”

He said part of NZTR’s response to this was the partnership with ESNZ.

“Our ultimate goal is to achieve a balance between the number of horses leaving racing and the number of enthusiastic and suitable new homes able to take on the responsibility of looking after a former racehorse.”

A series of competitions for thoroughbreds only, spread across three equestrian disciplines – jumping, eventing and dressage – will be added to this season’s equestrian competition schedule. Horses must be NZTR registered, and do not have to have raced.

Each horse will accumulate points over the duration of the designated shows, determined by their overall placing in an individual class, and the horse with the highest number of points at the show will be awarded prizes and the title ‘TiES [Eventing/Jumping/Dressage] Champion’.

A grand prize will also be awarded to the highest placing thoroughbred (regardless of discipline) in the season under review at the close of the season.

ESNZ Chief Executive Jim Ellis said many retrained thoroughbreds had made their mark on the equestrian circuit over the years.

“For many years the New Zealand thoroughbred was recognised as the ideal eventing horse and is still the first choice for many top event riders around the world.

“Increasingly, thoroughbreds are making their mark in our other disciplines especially in showjumping and dressage. These new competitions will recognise the hard work and years of training that are involved in producing a retrained Thoroughbred to a high level of achievement in equestrian sport,” Ellis said.

TiES Jumping Competitions will take place at the National Championships (February 6-9) at the National Equestrian Centre McLeans Island, Christchurch. To register, contact megan@nzequestrian.org.nz.

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  1. Alice Perry says:

    The polocrosse scene utilises a lot of off the track thoroughbreds. Would be cool if there was some recognition for the top TB’s in Polocrosse.

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