The 2013 John Smith’s Grand National will be run on Saturday 6th April at 4:15pm. Its a spectacle that I enjoy watching every year. As an ex-Eventer (although at a low level) I am used to galloping cross country against the clock over big solid fences and I enjoyed the cross country phase because it is an adrenaline rush. The Grand National fences are enormous and unlike Eventing you are galloping and racing with 40 other horses and to add to the challenge some of the horses will not have riders to steer them so I have total respect for the horses and riders in the Grand National.
The only time I gamble my hard earned money is when I go to the races. It adds to the excitement having a little bit of money on one of the horses. Grand National betting makes watching an exciting race even more exciting so I like to have a few £££ on one or more of the horses. With 40 runners and 16 big fences a lot can happen in the race so there is always the chance of an outsider winning the race at big odds.
As an ex-Eventer I have moved to a more sedate equine sport and I now compete at Dressage. I have had some success at the lower levels with my highlight being 3rd at the Area Championships in the Prelim class. Prelim may be the lowest level but 60 horses qualified for the Area Championship from across the country so 3rd out of 60 in a championship class is not bad
Racehorses are like riders, after their racing career is over they also need a career change. There has been lots of press coverage recently about Kauto Star retiring from racing and now re-training for dressage. While the speculation that Kauto Star could compete at the Olympics was unrealistic the press coverage shows that a racehorse can be re-trained and compete successfully at the lower levels. The press coverage and column inches that racehorses can have a successful career change is fantastic and should help getting more racehorses retrained as riding horses.
These are a few Grand National racehorses that have been retrained successfully:
- Bindaree won the Grand National in 2002. In 2007 he won 4 of 6 one day events and also competed successfully at dressage. Bindaree was based at a yard in part of the Cotswolds where I was based in the 1990s and I know that there are lots of unaffiliated and unaffiliated competitions in the area.
- Royal Athlete won the Grand National in 1995. He has since competed successfully in junior side saddle shows. As a junior side saddle horse he clearly settled well into life as a riding horse and was not a highly strung uncontrollable thoroughbred.
- Philsons Run came 4th in the 2007 Grand National and is now a hunter. His new owner rode him to her wedding accompanied by a pack of hounds!
The South Essex Insurance Brokers Racehorse to Riding Horse Show Championship is a national showing championship for ex-racehorses held at major equine competitions. The photograph shows the Racehorse to Riding Horse class at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in 2011. This championship enables owners of ex-racehorses to qualify and compete at the biggest competitions in the UK.
Listed below are a few of the many organisations that will re-train racehorses for a new career: