THERE is rarely a week that reports in the Irish Horse World pages that do not mention the success of thoroughbreds that have transitioned from the racing game to another discipline.
For Treo Eile, whose mission is to connect, support and promote the retraining of racehorses, this is a positive trajectory. The not-for-profit which was founded by Caoimhe Doherty and Sarah Sands two years ago, increased the program of event sponsorship for these thoroughbreds in 2022 and have noted growth in the number of horses participating in equestrian competition.
Treo Eile director Caoimhe Doherty explains: “Thankfully in recent years there has been a more open conversation regarding thoroughbreds transitioning to a second career when their time on the racetrack is over or if racing is not for them. Their versatility, adaptability and willingness to learn has seen them become a much sought commodity for people looking for either a project horse or one that they may compete successfully through various levels and disciplines. Treo Eile rewards these thoroughbreds through a variety of incentives at all levels of competition and we have partnered with many of the sport horse bodies to encourage participation through prize money.”
New career: former race horse Natures Blossom found a new career, partnered by Rachael Broome
Eventing is a popular route for thoroughbreds, with their quick brain and ability to meet the time requirement of the modern cross-country course. The Young Event Horse Series in the summer saw the Chris Ryan-owned Tobias claim the Treo Eile-sponsored ‘Highest Placed Thoroughbred’ prize and the €500 bonus when qualifying for the final at the Dublin Horse Show. The five-year-old unraced Sans Frontieres gelding was previously third to Ballydrummond (Gerald Bloomer) in the Treo Eile-sponsored thoroughbred class at the Wexford Equestrian Stepping Stone to Success League in the Spring.
The Treo Eile Eventing League aligned with Eventing Ireland’s schedule, commencing in March and concluding at the final event of the year in Punchestown on October 8th. Over 75 combinations competed throughout the year for the €2,000 prize fund. Junior EI100 rider Rachael Broome and the nine-year-old Fruits of Love mare Natures Blossom took the number one spot, with Charlotte Walshe and the former Andrew McNamara-trained Herobrine in second place with only one point separating the two. Bernadette Curry and the Teofilo gelding Teo’s Chance placed third.
Lilymai Berry and Skylanna Scatman (pictured in action at the Killinick Hunt Pony Club - IPC/Red Mills eventing championships at Tattersalls) \ Mel Doyle
The Ward Union Pony Club Branch allowed Treo Eile to highlight the suitability of thoroughbreds for teenagers by running a demonstration evening. Pony club members doubled as demo riders with Tekka Whelan (Bray branch) riding her own former Tony Mullins-trained Fortunate Max and Kilkenny member, Aisling Dwan, riding the Randox Grand National winner One For Arthur. Both combinations highlighted the suitability of the thoroughbred for younger riders and enjoyed success on the showing and working hunter circuit throughout the summer.
This interest led to the inaugural sponsorship of Training Bursaries for the highest placed thoroughbreds at the IPC Eventing Championships. Lilymai Berry representing the Killinick Branch and the eight-year-old Skylanna Scatman won the Intro Intermediate section at the Championships. The Tajraasi gelding, who ran 11 times, only had his last run in May 2021. He was also previously in receipt of a Treo Eile rosette when second in the aforementioned Stepping Stones to Success League in the spring. Another graduate of the Stepping Stones to Success League to qualify for the Championships was fellow Killinick member Jessie Bates and the 17hh Guns for Hire. Fourteen-year-old Jessie has been riding the gelding since he came out of training with Ewan Williams last year and is currently competing him in the Interschools Showjumping.
Showing classes have proved popular for many past champions on the track as well as some of the lesser known names. Treo Eile sponsored a Showing Pathway Series with nine qualifiers for the final at the Lambertstown Show on September 18th.
The Henry de Bromhead-trained Milliner stood top of the line in the Novice final. The nine-year-old winner of one, was ridden by Phillipa Scott from Ballina and qualified at Athenry show. Irish Grand National winner General Principle was second, ridden by Seanin Mahon. The Wicklow Show qualifier winner, Mandamus was third with Helen Mooney aboard. Mooney owned the Lawman gelding during his racing days, before retraining him in his retirement.
Mahon and General Principle then went on to win the Open Final. It was a great end to their first showing season which saw the pair win the Racehorse to Riding Horse class at the Dublin Horse Show. Second place went to Susannah Ricci’s Cheltenham winner Douvan, ridden by Clare Ricketts, with the nine-year-old Hit The Tar and Vincent Phelan taking the yellow ribbon.
Dressage is another popular route for former racehorses and one to avail of Treo Eile sponsorship was the graded winning Arvika Ligeonniere and Louise Duffy, when competing at the Dressage in the City at Abbottstown. Louise has recently commenced retraining the dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo and his appearance in competition is eagerly awaited.
The former Willie Mullins-trained Renneti and Claire Farrell, together with Star of Rubykhan and Myriam Bunter have also been very consistent in the dressage arena and returned the highest placed thoroughbreds at the Dressage Ireland Championships in September.
It is interesting to note that polo players now turn to thoroughbreds to provide the agility and speed required for high-goal competition. At the recent Pakistan Cup Tournament which took place at the All-Ireland Polo Club, Phoenix Park, Siobhan Herbst’s Are You Serious was the recipient of the Treo Eile sponsored ‘Best Playing Horse’ prize. The eight-year-old mare was unsuccessful in her two runs on the flat for Gavin Cromwell.
Equine Assisted Learning
Equine Assisted Learning is an area that is growing in popularity and it has also opened the door for a second career for racehorses. Treo Eile is delighted that a retired thoroughbred mare put forward by Treo Eile and the ITBA has successfully completed a six-month pilot programme run by Horses for People in Co Down, in conjunction with Bristol University. The mare is now in active service with the organisation. It is encouraging to note that thoroughbreds have also been accepted for the second pilot programme.
The Association of Irish Riding Clubs is one of the largest equine organisations in Ireland and one where thoroughbreds have been great partners to the leisure rider for many years. Treo Eile is pleased to commence sponsorship with the AIRC through the South Eastern Region’s Autumn League.
Early retraining, showing and jumping clinics held in the spring and summer months helped support the different stages of retraining of former racehorses. A Connolly’s Red Mills feed talk and ARKequine webinar assisted with care elements for the thoroughbred. ARKequine is partnering with Treo Eile again on November 8th for a webinar addressing the topic of wintering the thoroughbred.
Already plans are in place for next year with a growing number of best thoroughbred prizes across all disciplines. Treo Eile will also host a series of clinics and webinars throughout the year so keep an eye on the social media channels and website for information on these clinics and prize schedules.
After the success of last year’s Christmas event, the 2022 Treo Eile Pro/Celeb showjumping challenge is going ahead, with details to be announced in the coming weeks.
Treo Eile Executive Officer, Anne O’Connor concludes: “The interest in sourcing a thoroughbred as a competition or retraining project is on the increase and to us, this is a ‘win win’ situation. We are, however, cognisant of the fact that this can involve taking a racehorse from an ‘elite athlete’ environment and asking them to adjust to a leisure atmosphere. We would urge new owners to seek assistance to aid the smooth transition for all concerned.
“We provide contact details for retrainers and coaches on our website and we are always available to provide support and answer queries on retraining issues. We would also encourage all owners to register their ex-racehorses (Free) on the Treo Eile website https://www.treoeile.com/register. It assists us in collating data on thoroughbreds that have transitioned to a second career and it allows us to structure our events programme and sponsorship.”
Treo Eile can be contacted on 087 7821199 or www.treoeile.com
This article has been kindly supplied by Treo Eile