Time running out ahead of inaugural Equimillion and auction

The inaugural Equimillion – lauded as a ‘game changer for the never-ending challenge of rehoming thoroughbreds’ – is fast approaching, or is it?

In April 2022, it was announced that Racing NSW’s Equimillion equestrian event would offer a minimum of $1 million in prizemoney exclusively for retired Thoroughbred racehorses.

“Equimillion is to showcase the versatility and suitability of Thoroughbreds for careers outside of racing, with the inaugural event to be held on the October long weekend in 2023,” Racing NSW’s statement read. 

“The $1 million plus in prizemoney on offer at Equimillion will be distributed across a range of disciplines and classes in the biggest two-day equestrian event ever to be held in NSW.

“The Equimillion competition will include eventing, show jumping, dressage and showing with a particular focus on amateur competitors.”

Racing NSW CEO Peter V’landys AM stated that the event would become an equestrian drawcard for NSW.

“Equimillion will become the go-to event for equestrian competitors in all disciplines,” he said.

“It has the potential to carry more than the $1 million in prizemoney and in time will be not only a major equestrian event but a major event for NSW with competitors coming from all states of Australia.”

Further to the initial announcement, in the 2022 Racing NSW Annual Report, V’landys confirmed the eligibility requirements, explaining there would be an auction in the lead-up to October’s event and that the Equimillion was designed to be self-funded and grow in magnitude as the competition gained more traction.

“Eligibility for Equimillion will be restricted to Thoroughbred horses sold at a Racing NSW run auction, with those horses then paying sustaining fees to gain a start in the competition,” he said. 

“This sustaining fee model will support the prizemoney being paid and allow for additional prizemoney growth as the volume of horses competing increases.”

Since the publication of the 2022 Annual Report, there have been no further Equimillion updates.

We’re nine weeks out from the proposed event, and no further details have been released regarding the Racing NSW run auction, eligibility, and the classes and events that will be run over the two days.

In fact, the Equimillion website is currently down, with it’s security certificate expired ten days ago’. 

At the same time, Racing NSW representatives from the Equimillion team have yet to reply to phone calls or emails from NSW Country and Picnic Racing, other media outlets and industry participants. 

It begs the question, will the inaugural Equimillion go ahead, and what will it look like?

Racing NSW is heavily promoting The Everest and The Kosciuszko, both to be run at Royal Randwick on October 14, two weeks after the proposed weekend of the Equimillion. 

Still, there is absolutely nothing to be found regarding the promotion of this game-changing equestrian event.

Even if an auction were to be announced today and held in the coming days or weeks, with the event just over two months away, welfare issues would undoubtedly come to the fore. 

It is unreasonable to think that even the most experienced and gifted trainers will have some of these hot-blooded thoroughbreds ready to come off the track for an auction and moulded into an eventing horse in such a short turnaround. 

Even horses that are currently retired and ready to compete, whether in dressage, show jumping, or cross country disciplines – trainers don’t know what classes Racing NSW plan to host and if their horses are even eligible, as there are no criteria outside their proposed auction.   

Even if enough horses are ready, is the Equimillion feasible in such a short time frame?

According to Vicki Burgess at Eventing NSW, the Equimillion will advance at Sydney International Equestrian Centre (SIEC) over the October long weekend. 

Still, she could not confirm any details other than the event being open to NSW Thoroughbreds before hinting that the proposed auction was very much ‘up in the air’. 

On SEIC’s website and social media accounts, there is nothing about the Equimillion, although they are promoting The National Vaulting Championships, which will take place between October 4-8. 

One would think that an event of the proposed magnitude as the Equimillion might warrant a social media post or two. 

Even on the draft 2023 Eventing NSW calendar, there is nothing about Equimillion, and again, it’s reasonable to think that this event would be worth having on any NSW eventing calendar. 

The entire Equimillion concept, which is terrific in theory, raises more questions than answers, and it is perplexing that Racing NSW cannot confirm anything about the event.