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New Careers For Ex-Racehorses

Insurers back competition to prove re-education is possible

Thoroughbreds coming out of racing often have new careers - as riding and competition horses. Leading equine insurer South Essex Insurance Brokers and QBE International Insurance, one of the UK's leading insurers of Thoroughbreds, are to jointly back them by running a national competition to find the year's most successful "re-educated" horses in all the disciplines.

"They seem to be a much-maligned group," said Barry Fehler, managing director of South Essex Insurance Brokers. "Many Thoroughbreds go on to have successful careers in the accepted disciplines. I have never seen any evidence which suggests that a horse that has been in training is impossible to re-educate for any of the accepted disciplines and now I want to prove it." One of Mr Fehler's most successful show horses, the Horse of the Year Show Champion, Princes Street, was bought out of racing.

"Racehorses to Riding Horses" will be open to horses affiliated to the British Show Jumping Association, British Dressage, British Eventing and the British Endurance Society as well as those contesting recognised showing classes or unaffiliated competition run by The British Riding Clubs, Pony Club, Permanent Show Organisers Association or approved centre.

"I know and work with a lot of experienced people in the racing world and not one of them believes that Thoroughbreds are untrainable when they come out of racing," said David Ashby, spokesman for QBE Insurance, which underwrites policies for South Essex.

"This competition, 'Racehorses to Riding Horses' has two objectives - to prove that it can be done and to encourage those who may not have contemplated giving these wonderful equine athletes a second chance at life."

It is a view shared by others in the horse and racing world. Clare Balding, leading BBC TV racing correspondent and daughter of trainer Ian Balding, said: "Both my parents are currently riding retrained Thoroughbreds as hacks. They can make the most wonderful riding horses providing that their temperament and soundness is good."

International showjumper William Funnell said: "I can see no reason why any Thoroughbred or ex-racehorse, properly treated and re-educated, should not go on to have a career in another discipline." And racehorse trainer Mark Johnston added: "I was delighted to hear of the 'Racehorses to Riding Horses' competition. It will not only encourage the purchase of ex-racehorses for use in other equestrian disciplines and, in so doing, remove a number of horses from the dangers of the 'poverty trap', it will encourage the owners of the many thousands of ex-racehorses already doing other jobs to advertise their horse's racing background."

Owners wishing to enter horses will need to get an application form entitling them to a Qualification Card on which competition successes are recorded. These will be assessed at the end of the 2002 season and trophies presented to the leading owners at the Supporters of British Breeding Awards dinner next year.

Owners will need to prove their horses are registered with Wetherbys and have been in training for either Flat or National Hunt Racing, although they need not have raced. Horses must compete under the name registered at Wetherbys and used whilst in training.

Application forms are available from "Racehorses to Riding Horses," South Essex Insurance Brokers Ltd., South Essex House, North Road, South Ockendon, Essex, RM15 5BE. Please enclose a large, stamped and self addressed envelope.


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Updated: October 2005.