Retrained Racehorses on parade at Doncaster on Leger Legends Day

  • Former racehorses join former jockeys on show at start of St Leger Festival

Not only will the public get to see former jockeys in action at Doncaster on Leger Legends Day on Wednesday 12th September, they will also see a parade by former racehorses. Whereas the jockeys riding in the Leger Legends Charity Race will be looking to roll back the years to their race riding days, the former racehorses will be showing off their adaptability and new skills in their post-racing careers.

This year Arena Racing Company (ARC) has joined forces with British racing’s official charity for the welfare of retired racehorses, Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), to stage a series of awareness days across courses in the ARC group. The highlight among the fixtures in the series is Doncaster and the opening day of the William Hill St Leger Festival.

The ‘ARC RoR Awareness Days’ feature parades by former racehorses who have been retrained for a fulfilling second career. The aim is to increase awareness among racegoers of the versatility of racehorses and the increasingly wide range of options available to them when their racing careers are over.

The Doncaster parade includes horses based at the nearby Northern Racing College, where they teach young people coming in to the sport to ride racehorses, as well as the likes of Namibian, a former Royal Ascot winner when trained by Mark Johnston who has gone on to represent Great Britain in Para Dressage.

Also featuring in the parade are the Pattern race winners Grumeti and Glen’s Diamond, as well as the top class handicapper, Chil The Kite. Chil The Kite’s final victory on the track came at the 2015 York Ebor meeting when ridden by his then regular partner, George Baker, who will be in attendance at Doncaster to watch the Leger Legends Charity Race.

Di Arbuthnot, Chief Executive of Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), said: “All of the horses taking part have been retrained for a successful second career after retiring from racing. Some are well known to racegoers, others less so, but their achievements and contribution post-racing are no less noteworthy.

“We are very grateful to ARC and Doncaster for their fantastic support and for giving RoR a wonderful platform from which to increase awareness of the work the charity does protecting and promoting the welfare of former racehorses.”

The ARC RoR Awareness Days are also supported by the Peter O’Sullevan Trust, who are valued sponsors of RoR.

The full parade line-up is as follows:

ABSEIL (Cross-Country) – Ridden by Tracy Sieminski 

8-year-old gelding by First Defence, formerly trained by Sir Michael Stoute

Abseil can lay claim to being the best-bred horse currently registered with RoR. His dam, Intercontinental, won a Breeders Cup race and he is closely related to the stallions Champs Elysees and Dansili. He ran 12 times, winning twice before retiring in 2015. He is proving versatile and successful in his second career; in dressage he and Tracy Sieminksi qualified for the BHS Championships and they took part in dressage and showing classes at the recent RoR Goffs UK National Championships. The pair have also done pleasure rides, express eventing and cross-country and recently won a Hunter Trial qualifying them for the Eland Lodge Championships.

CHIL THE KITE (Dressage) – Ridden by Mark Holmes 

9-year-old gelding by Notnowcato, formerly trained by Hughie Morrison

The winner of a Listed race in France and twice placed in the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot, Chil The Kite’s last win came at the 2015 Ebor meeting at York in the hands of his then regular partner, George Baker. Now based at New Beginnings and ridden here by Mark Holmes, one of their team, his retraining programme started in March. It is going well and he is learning quickly, while also clearly showing some character! He did his first introductory dressage test in August and the plan is to do more competitions and classes over the next twelve months to gain more experience.

COOMBE HILL – Ridden by Ben Smoult  (Northern Racing College)

17-year-old gelding by Prince Daniel formerly trained by Claire Wonnacott

Coombe Hill enjoyed six wins in chases under rules and eleven wins in point-to-points, being a placed a further 26 times between the flags. He joined the Northern Racing College in October 2017 and does a great job teaching the Foundation Course learners how to care for and ride racehorses. His main job is to teach young riders how to ride in a string, which he does in a gentlemanly manner. He also teaches more advanced riders to school over fences and hurdles. When featured in Horse and Hound’s ‘Horse Hero’ series, he was described as “the high-class veteran pointer who simply refuses to retire”.

GLEN’S DIAMOND (Showing) – Ridden by Rose Madden

10-year-old by Intikhab, formerly trained by Richard Fahey

A two-time Group winner, Glen’s Diamond’s biggest win came in the Gr.2 Yorkshire Cup of 2013. In all he won over £180,000 during his 21 race career. Glen’s Diamond now has a new career in dressage and showing, competing individually and in a team comprised of fellow former racehorses called the Recycled Racers. Together with rider Rose Madden, the pair qualified for the past two runnings of the RoR Goffs UK National Championships in both dressage and showing. Rose describes Glen as “a beautiful horse inside and out”.

GRUMETI (Eventing) – Ridden by Katie Reynolds 

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

Grumeti was a Grade 1 winner over hurdles at Aintree at the Grand National Festival of 2012 and three years later he won the Cesarewitch at 50/1 at Newmarket. In his 46 starts he accrued over £330,000 in prize money. A fantastic servant to his owners the McNeill family and trainer Alan King, Grumeti is now ridden by owner Katie Reynolds and is being retraining for a career in eventing, where he has taken particularly well to the cross-country phase.

JACK’S THE LAD – Ridden by Conor Dougall (Northern Racing College)

14-year-old by Aahsaylad, formerly trained by Alice Campbell

Jack’s The Lad ran under National Hunt rules, where he was placed twice, and in point-to-points, winning once. After retiring from racing Jack did some team chasing and eventing before coming to the Northern Racing College in 2016. His main job is to teach young riders how to ride in a string on the gallops; he loves to lead the string and teaches the young riders a lot about pace and rhythm. He also teaches more advanced riders to school over fences and hurdles and plays a major role in the Amateur and Conditional License specialist courses.

LEXINGTON ABBEY (Showing) – Ridden by Louise Kelly

7-year-old by Sleeping Indian, formerly trained by Kevin Ryan

A tough and talented sprinter, Lexington Abbey carried the colours of Middleham Park Racing 34 times, winning four times and being placed a further ten. He was retired from racing after fracturing his sesamoid in September 2017 and since then Louise Kelly and Lexington Abbey have been taking it easy. Recently the pair have done a few RoR showing classes as well as taking part in RoR educational clinics. The plan is to do a few pleasure rides and join the local hunt for hound exercise to get Lexington Abbey to relax better with the aim to continue showing and hopefully qualify for the 2019 RoR Goffs UK National Championships. 

NAMIBIAN (Dressage) – Ridden by Julie Frizzell

10-year-old by Cape Cross, formerly trained by John Ferguson and Mark Johnston

A Royal Ascot winner for Mark Johnston, through Godolphin Rehoming, Namibian has thrived in his second career as a para dressage horse. Under the tutelage of Julie Frizzell, a retired RAF Wing Commander who is now a leadership and coaching consultant, Namibian quickly adapted to his new sport. Three years down the line, he is working on advanced dressage movements and has excelled in the para dressage arena, with the pair being selected to represent Great Britain on three occasions and qualifying for the British Dressage National Para Dressage Championships. Described by Julie as “the equine version of an over keen Labrador puppy” he is beginning to hold his own in the inspirational company of many Paralympic gold medallist combinations.