Road to Olympia: racehorse who was on the track for 13 years set to hit the show ring at Olympia

  • Claire Blackham was all set to campaign her horse New Team (Claude) for the Olympia International Horse Show last year, but the gelding was struck down with a virus meaning his season was cut short.

    Claire has owned the 17-year-old ex racehorse since 2012 when he was given to her as a 30th birthday present. The gelding was raced for 13 years before commencing his retraining as a show horse and contending the ever popular Retraining of Racehorse (RoR) classes. He had a successful career on the Flat in France before heading to the UK where he was trained by Robert Alner prior to an accident where he was paralysed. He was a successful three mile chaser and carried many of the characteristic quirky traits of his sire Green Tune.

    “His retraining went well over that winter, so much so that we decided to take him to Osbaldeston in March 2013, where he qualified for the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) Racehorse to Riding Horse final on his first attempt and first show standing second to Katie Jerram and Barber Shop,” said Claire. “In the same season he was virtually unbeaten qualifying for the RoR Hickstead Derby Final, where he finished third overall. He also qualified for the Royal International Horse Show as a large riding horse where he finished sixth in the large riding horse, but remarkably was also second and reserve champion in the amateur riding horse championship.

    “He went onto qualify for HOYS as a large riding horse in the same season. He also won the amateur home produced riding horse championship at the British Show Horse Association (BSHA) national championships and qualified for the RoR Racehorse to Dressage horse final.

    “He qualified on our first ever attempt through the direct route qualifier at Royal Bath and West this year. He was entered last year but caught a nasty virus so couldn’t go.

    “We entered the same qualifier again this year but were undecided whether to go because of the bad weather and horrific ground. Our other RoR had won on the Wednesday and my husband and I were travelling solo with our three-year old-daughter; it was only that Lola wanted to go on the heltaskelter that we actually made the decision to attend.

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    “He hadn’t been to a show since the BSHA championships the year so I was not expecting to qualify. This horse has taken my to every championship there is so we are very excited to get the opportunity to compete at Olympia and to represent the RoR community. He’s not been out since other than to the National Pony Society extravaganza where he stood veteran champion under Sarah Challinor.”

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