Champions old and new in The Festival RoR Parade

  • Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Stayers’ Hurdle winners in line-up
  • Several Festival heroes already making their mark in new disciplines
  • Parade again sponsored by the Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust

A new generation of retired racehorses and former Festival favourites feature in this year’s Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) Parade, held on Champion Day, the opening day of The Festival at Cheltenham (Tuesday 13 March).

The parade, scheduled to start at 12.30pm, showcases the range of activities open to racehorses when they finish their racing careers and has become an increasingly popular attraction in the build-up to racing on the first day of the meeting.

The RoR Parade is again sponsored by the Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust and among the former Cheltenham winners making their parade debut at The Festival are Annacotty, Any Currency, Dodging Bullets and Hunt Ball. All four horses have made encouraging starts to their new careers and are set to compete this year in a variety of classes staged exclusively for former racehorses by RoR.

There are also some familiar horses from past RoR parades, such as the former Champion Hurdle winner Punjabi and two old sparring partners in Big Buck’s and Barbers Shop. The pair first met on the racecourse ten years ago when Big Buck’s made his British debut in a novice chase at Newbury, winning by a neck from Barbers Shop. Subsequent to their illustrious racing careers both Big Buck’s and Barbers Shop have enjoyed fulfilling second careers in the hunting field and show ring respectively.

Another familiar name in the line-up is Silviniaco Conti, now in the care of Charlotte Alexander, who formerly looked after and rode Denman before his full-time retirement in 2017. Like Denman before him, Silviniaco Conti is enjoying hunting and team chasing and such has been his progress in the latter that he has been fast-tracked from novice to open classes.

There is also the wonderful story of the not un-aptly named Back In Focus, who the despite the loss of an eye in a freak accident has subsequently adapted to a successful second career team chasing. Enormous credit must go to Back In Focus’s rider Clare Burrows for taking on the former Willie Mullins trained Festival winner and giving the horse the opportunity to thrive in another discipline.

Scottish Grand National winner Wayward Prince, who is already competing in dressage classes, and Wild West, a maiden under rules but a champion among retrained racehorses, complete the line-up. Last August, Wild West was crowned ROA and Goffs UK Supreme Champion at the RoR National Championships and he also was awarded the 2017 RoR Elite Performance Award for Showing.

Hunt Ball will be ridden by Sarah Henderson, daughter of the horse’s former trainer, Nicky Henderson, and she is looking forward to taking the horse back to Cheltenham in his new guise as a hunter.

“His owners Atlantic Equine very kindly asked if I would like to have him in his retirement. I was over the moon and Hunt Ball returned to Seven Barrows in June.

“Since our reunion nine months ago we have done some cross-country schooling, grid work and flat work to help retrain him for his new life as a hunter.  However, it’s not all been plain sailing, as hacking out at Seven Barrows on his own often proved a bit much, all he wanted to do was re-join the string. However, since we moved him to a livery yard in Kingston Lisle he has really blossomed.

“We’ve been hunting with both the Old Berks and Vine & Craven and when he is out he loves watching hounds. Hunt Ball is hugely intelligent with an abundance of character and this year, after the Cheltenham parade, I am aiming to do some RoR classes and perhaps even a one day event with him, but our shared number one passion remains hunting.”

Di Arbuthnot, Chief Executive of RoR, added: “It’s wonderful how popular the RoR Parades have become and our sincere thanks to Cheltenham for providing the opportunity for the public to see how well these retired racehorses have adapted to a second career.

“Special thanks also to the Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust for their generous support as sponsors of the RoR Parades and Musical Ride for 2018.”

Sunday 4th March 2018

The full line-up for the 2018 RoR Parade at Cheltenham, sponsored by the Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust, is as follows:

Annacotty (Showing and show jumping) – ridden by Hannah Bishop

10-year-old by Beneficial, formerly trained by Alan King

Annacotty provided his owner Liz Prowting with her first Grade 1 win, as well as three memorable victories at Cheltenham, including the 2015 Paddy Power Gold Cup. The decision was taken to retire him last year and since then he has been busy being retrained by Hannah Bishop, Racing Manager to Mrs Prowting. He has adapted well to his second career, even being ridden side-saddle, and the long-term aim is to compete in working hunter classes, starting with some RoR TBA Challenge classes this season.

Any Currency (Show jumping) – ridden by Harley Cornock

15-year-old by Moscow Society, formerly trained by Martin Keighley

A Cheltenham specialist whose feats include being first past the post in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at the 2016 Festival, Any Currency retired from racing in April 2017. Now in the care of Harley Cornock, Any Currency has been retraining in showjumping, which he thoroughly enjoys. He recently started competing at British Novice level and the aim is to qualify for the RoR Bronze League final at the National Championships held at Stoneleigh.

Barbers Shop (Showing) – ridden by Chris Hunnable

16-year-old by Saddlers’ Hall, formerly trained by Nicky Henderson

Owned by HM The Queen, since his retirement from racing in 2012, Barbers Shop has been with Katie Jerram and under her schooling he became one of the leading former racehorses to compete in showing classes. Among his many successes was victory at the Hickstead Derby Final and three times winner and champion at Royal Windsor Horse Show. He is now retired from competitive showing.

Back in Focus (Team chasing) – ridden by Clare Burrows

13-year-old by Bob Back, formerly trained by Willie Mullins

On the track Back In Focus won a Grade 1 and the 2013 running of the National Hunt Chase, however, a freak accident in 2015 fractured his cheekbone and resulted in him losing an eye, ending his racing career. Clare Burrows took on Back In Focus in December 2016 and the lack of an eye has not impeded his second career. The pair are now regulars on the team chasing circuit, competing at intermediate level for the ‘Why Nots’. He also hunts regularly with both the Fitzwilliam Hunt and the Cambridge University Drag Hounds.

Big Buck’s (Hunting) – ridden by Lucy Felton

15-year-old by Cadoudal, formerly trained by Paul Nicholls

Winner of the Stayers’ Hurdle a record four times, Big Buck’s retired from racing in 2014 with a career record of 20 wins from 33 starts and prize money earnings of £1.3m. He still enjoys a day’s hunting with Lucy Felton and the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale, as well as accompanying her children and their ponies on rides.

Dodging Bullets (Dressage and Showjumping) ridden by Lucy Sharp

10-year–old by Dubawi, formally trained by Paul Nicholls

The pinnacle of Dodging Bullets’ racing career was victory in the 2015 Queen Mother Champion Chase, giving his owners Martin Broughton and friends a day to remember. During his six-year spell with Paul Nicholls, Dodging Bullets was looked after by Lucy Sharpe and Lucy is now retraining him for a second career following his retirement in 2017. Lucy has been doing plenty of flat work on him and is looking forward to competing in RoR dressage and show jumping events.

Hunt Ball (Hunting) ridden by Sarah Henderson

13-year-old by Winged Love, formally trained by Kieren Burke and Nicky Henderson

In the 2011-12 season Hunt Ball won seven races, including victory at the Festival, and his handicap rating rose a remarkable 85lbs, from a mark of 69 to 154. In June 2017 Hunt Ball was retired and given to Sarah Henderson, primarily as a hunter. The pair have been hunting this season with both the Old Berks and Vine & Craven and Sarah reports that he loves watching hounds and is very intelligent. They are aiming to do some RoR classes and perhaps a one-day-event, along with their shared number one passion, hunting.

Punjabi (Hunting and hunter trials) – ridden by Rachael Kempster

15-year-old by Komaite, formerly trained by Nicky Henderson and David Pipe

Winner of the 2009 Champion Hurdle, Punjabi retired in 2013 and moved to Kinsale Stud, Shropshire. Under Rachael Kempster Punjabi has competed in unaffiliated dressage competitions as well as going hunting. Due to on-going arthritis in his hock from a previous injury, Punjabi has had to switch his attention from dressage to hunter trials. His enthusiasm for galloping and jumping has not waned and his next outing will be in a pairs’ hunter trial at the end of March.

Silviniaco Conti (Team chasing) – ridden by Charlotte Alexander

12-year-old by Dom Alco, formally trained by Paul Nicholls

During an illustrious racing career, Silviniaco Conti won seven Grade 1 races, including two King George VI Chases and over £1m in prize money. Since his retirement in 2017 Silviniaco Conti has been team chasing and has already progressed from novice to open classes. He has also been hunting and his other love is being a stock horse, rounding up the sheep on the farm! His rider, Charlotte Alexander, hopes to take him eventing this summer and she credits Brian Hutton at the Talland School of Equitation for helping her nurture Conti’s potential in his second career.

Wayward Prince – (Dressage and hunting) ridden by Megan Harper

14-year-old by Alflora, formerly trained by Ian Williams and Hilary Parrott

Winner of the 2015 Scottish Grand National and a Grade 2 chase, Wayward Prince was also third in the 2012 RSA Chase. Retired after winning the Scottish National, he is now at livery with Martin Jones, who broke him in, and is ridden by Martin’s Head Girl Megan Harper. He has been hunting and competing in various classes, recently qualifying for the RoR dressage championships (preliminary level). He will be aimed at the RoR dressage and eventing leagues this summer.

Wild West (Showing) – ridden by Lizzie Harris

10-year-old by Galileo, formally trained by Jonjo O’Neill

Despite being in-training first with Aidan O’Brien and then Jonjo O’Neill, where he was ridden by AP McCoy, Wild West remained a maiden under rules, however, he has enjoyed great success in his second career. The highlight was being crowned Supreme Champion at the RoR National Championships in 2017, when ridden side-saddle by Lizzie Harris. He is a very versatile horse having also hunted, team chased and evented. In the show ring his victories include the RoR Tattersalls Championship at Hickstead in 2015 and 2017 and he was the winner of the 2017 RoR Elite Performance Award for Showing.