Former Canberra gallopers Imanacheeva and Silver Nook might not have set the world alight on the race track, but they have found their calling in the sport of show jumping.
Imanacheeva – which is now an eight-year-old – started 25 times for one win, while six-year-old Shaft mare Silver Nook retired as a nine-start maiden.
The pair have since joined Grant Hughes and his Emmaville Performances Horses team in Canberra, and they have taken to jumping and competing in Thorough Sport Horse Association events all over the state.
“They went to Grant Hughes, who is a show jumper in Canberra,” said their former trainer and Thoroughbred Park conditioner, Rob Potter.
“He re-educated them and they are both very talented show jumpers and doing very well.
“Both of them are really good types of horses, and big horses and obviously that’s what you look for in show jumping horses, and they both have taken to it really well.”
Potter, who jumped horses with Hughes before turning his attention to thoroughbred training, said he is always on the lookout for gallopers that don’t quite measure up to racing but might be better suited to jumping.
“I was a show jumper myself and travelled around with Grant, and he is a good mate of mine,” Potter said.
“So anything I like, I ring up Grant and he takes it, and he ends up keeping most of them.
“We don’t charge anything for them, and he rehomes them again or keeps them and jumps them, and it worked out well that both Imanacheeva and Silver Nook have turned out to be good jumpers.
“And that is the main thing for me; that they are off to good homes. We don’t like to sell those horses online, and if we think they have had enough, we try and find them an off the track home.”
In this day and age, the rehoming of racehorses is just as important, if not more important than their racing careers, and Potter reiterated that he and his team takes life after racing for their gallopers very seriously.
“We could have them for two or three years, and we are a small stable, so we know them well, and all the staff get attached to them, and we want to see them get good homes when they finish up racing,” Potter said.
“Some will get sold that are still good enough to race in other areas, but with most horses, we will look for homes, and some might get given to kids for Pony Club, and others become jumpers, and it really depends on the horse but getting a good home is really important to us.”
Hughes is always more than happy to work with Potter and other trainers, and he admitted that he was given two very nice horses when discussing the progress of Imanacheeva and Silver Nook.
“They are two beauties,” Hughes said.
“They are both nice horses, and both have had their ups and downs, and they will go to the next level.
“It helps when you get them from a good trainer, and Rob is a good horseman, and he started with us as a kid.
“They come on very quick because he trains well, rides them, and schools them.”
Hughes touched on what he was looking for in potential jumpers.
“A bit of leg is good, but you want a horse with some temperament,” Hughes said.
“Something a bit scopey and with a good canter is good, and if they have good canter, they can generally jump, plus you also want one that is a forward thinker.”
The Canberra team, who use the ‘Emmaville’ prefix on all of their horses, boast a good catalogue of thoroughbreds-turned-jumpers, and Highes stressed that the right type of galloper can make a lovely performer.
“Over the years we have had some terrific thoroughbreds, and we probably don’t try enough these days, but we have had a good run with them lately,” he said.
“I’ve started putting a folder together, and 20 or so of them I’ve sold, and they have been really good performers, and we have kept a lot that have gone onto do really well in show jumping.”
Imanacheeva and Silver Nook will be included in a team of 10 that Hughes will take to Gundagai on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and he explained that he was always busy jumping thoroughbreds and warmbloods all over the state.
“We were at Nowra on the weekend, and they placed there, and we do most shows, and we are off to Gundagai this week before the Canberra Cup, then Boorowa, Cooma, and we go pretty much everywhere,” Hughes said.
“We’ll do the May run at Nyngan, Dubbo, and Coonamble and they will perform pretty regularly.”
Author’s hoofnote: At NSW Country and Picnic Racing, we try our best to shine the light on all things racing in the bush, but we recognise there is just as much going on off the track, with former gallopers taking on new careers in jumping, eventing, and other disciplines.
Whether you have a champion showjumper or a much-loved hack, we want to hear from you, and we will be aiming to put together an ‘Off The Track Wrap’ each and every month.
To have your horse featured, email our editor Jeff Hanson at email@example.com.