‘He could be an eventer’: watch Piggy March put Lizzie Kelly and ex-racehorse Tea For Two through their paces

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  • History-making jump jockey Lizzie Kelly retired from the sport last year, but she and her dual Grade One winner Tea For Two have been enjoying a new career away from the racecourse. The pair have tried their hand at some combined training and jumping classes, with Lizzie’s big aim being the RoR (Retraining Of Racehorses) National Championships at Aintree – the scene of one of the pair’s greatest racing triumphs.

    So in order to further their progress, Lizzie jumped at the chance of having a lesson with Badminton winner and European team gold medallist Piggy March recently.

    “I thought I’ve got to do this – I knew it would be so interesting,” Lizzie tells H&H. “It was a fantastic experience.”

    Piggy put Lizzie and 12-year-old Tea For Two, who retired from racing two years ago, through their paces at Unicorn Equestrian Centre near Stow On The Wold. As you can see in the video, they began with some work on the flat before going on to do some grid work over fences.

    Piggy set out to help Tea For Two become more relaxed.

    “He was very highly strung when he was racing and never travelled particularly well in the lorry, and he’s rather continued with that,” says Lizzie. “So it’s been a bit of an operation to get him to go in the lorry and not get revved because he thinks he’s going racing.

    “Both Tea For Two and I have done a bit of flatwork, but we’re both novice in that area. I know that if we want to do other activities like eventing, flatwork is so important. So it was a good opportunity to get a lesson from someone so very highly qualified!”

    Piggy concentrated in particular on their trot work.

    “He has to start learning that he’s not going to the races every time he goes on the lorry,” says Piggy. “He’s a horse that could do very well at eventing, looking at how nicely he moves. He’s so balanced and he’s a beautiful horse.”

    Piggy has her own ex-racer in her Barbury-winning RoR ride, the 10-year-old Our Old Fella, who raced once on the Flat. Like leading NH trainer Dan Skelton recently told H&H, Piggy sings the praises of thoroughbreds, saying her lovely grey ex-racer is a “super cool character”.

    “He just wants to work, he’s like a sponge,” she says. “They’re bred to race, they love to race, it’s what they’ve always known, but it’s not that they’re never going to love doing something else. It’s a game – we just have to teach them and it’s such fun.”

    Piggy was immediately smitten with Tea For Two, who she describes as “a beautiful type”.

    “He has a big aura,” agrees Lizzie, whose mother bought the Kayf Tara gelding as a two-year-old.

    “He’s actually very good at showjumping – all my mum [trainer Jane Williams]’s horses have jumping lessons once a week – but when we’re in a competition we both tend to revert to what we’re very good at, which is throwing ourselves at the fences and that doesn’t really pay off!

    “He has a superb jump – he’d be well able to jump any height that I ever wanted to do, and I think Piggy was surprised how advanced he was at figuring out stride patterns and where his feet need to go.”

    In a stellar career together, Lizzie and Tea For Two won the Grade One Betway Bowl at Aintree and the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, as well as taking part in the 2019 Grand National.

    “I owe him rather a lot,” says Lizzie. “I’m very lucky though – a lot of jockeys ride great horses in their careers, but are never in a position to give their best horses a home afterwards.

    “He actually has a ‘pension’, which is paid for by his two owners, my mum and Len Jakeman, and that helps with feed, shoes and so on – it’s their way of making sure he’s alright. He has a nice life, he’s ridden nearly every day and he’s always full of enthusiasm.”

    Of her aim to make it to the RoR National Championships, she says: “His biggest win was at Aintree, so it would be nice to go full circle – he hasn’t quite got the temperament to go showing there just yet, but give it time!”

    With thanks to Great British Racing.

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