Cowdray Park event showcases former racehorses thriving in polo

  • Two prestigious RoR awards given to leading pony and producer
  • Former racehorses excel in King Power semi-final matches

The adaptability of former racehorses was to the fore at a fantastic day of high drama and high goal polo on semi-finals day of the King Power Gold Cup at Cowdray Park yesterday.

In between two thrilling semi-final matches, both of which featured former racehorses, British racing’s charity, Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), held its annual ‘Racing to Polo Challenge’ and also made the presentation for RoR’s Young Producer Award 2018, given to the player who has made the best contribution to retraining racehorses for polo.

The winner of the ‘Racing to Polo Challenge’ was the five year-old mare Drawn To Be A Lady, ridden and prepared by Will Brasher who received the Balding Trophy, a cheque for £1,500 and a winner’s rug courtesy of Lycetts.

A daughter of Avonbridge, Drawn To Be A Lady ran three times, twice for Bill Turner and once for Michael Attwater, in an undistinguished racing career. Bought out of racing two years ago out by Will Brasher, Drawn To Be A Lady immediately showed a greater aptitude for polo. Will says of the mare: “She loves her work and always tries her best. I am very hopeful she has what it takes to get to the top.”

The runner-up, in an 11 strong field made up entirely of mares, was the seven year-old Maidana, ridden by Nick Johnson, and in third place was Sweets’N’Sheets, a five year-old by Fast Company, who was also ridden by Will Brasher.

The judging panel comprised of Rob Cudmore, a former professional polo player and well-known breeder and trainer of polo ponies, together with Martyn Meade and David Loder, both polo enthusiasts with successful careers in the racing industry.

The ‘Racing to Polo Challenge’ was sandwiched between two thrilling semi-final matches for the King Power Gold Cup. The first match saw El Remanso defeat La Indiana 14-13 in overtime and featured nine former racehorses among the ponies in action in a remarkable game. Adjudged to be ‘RoR Best Playing Pony’ was the twelve year-old mare, Dazzel, the mount of La Indiana’s Alec White. Dazzel was bred by and originally raced for Bill Gredley when trained by David Lanigan.

The second semi-final also went to overtime before La Bamba de Areco scored the decisive winner to beat RH Polo 10-9. Adjudged ‘RoR Best Playing Pony’ in this match was Faye Belle, ridden by David Stirling from winners La Bamba de Areco.

The 2018 winner of the Young Producer Award was Jimbo Feuster, who collected a trophy and a cheque for £1,500. The award was devised by RoR Chairman Paul Roy as a means of recognising the value of the work done by those who invest their own money in taking horses from racing and retraining them for polo. Six producers, responsible for retraining 96 former racehorses between them, were in the running and the panel selected Jimbo Feuster.

RoR Chief Executive, Di Arbuthnot, said: “We had a fantastic day. We are so grateful to Cowdray Park for allowing us to be part of this day, with RoR’s events taking place between two breath-taking semi-finals.

“I would like to thank all those who participated, in particular our judging panel and our commentary team of David Morley and Francesca Cumani.

“Polo is such an important outlet for former racehorses and has today has showcased, once again, that it is a sport that former racehorses can go to the very top in.”