Riders who enjoy hunting their ex-racehorses will have an extra incentive to take a few more days this season.
Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) is to sponsor a new series aimed at hunters, culminating in a fun “handy hunter-style” championship in 2011.
Entrants must apply to RoR for a records form, to be signed by their master of hounds or hunt secretary to show that the horse has been hunted “fairly and regularly” on at least six days.
They will then be eligible for the final to be held at a “prestigious” — yet to be confirmed — venue next year.
The final itself will test the hunting skills of horse and rider, as RoR director of operations Di Arbuthnot explained: “There will be hunt jumps, a bridge to cross, a gate to open and shut and the hunter must stand to allow his rider to take a glass of port from a silver tray.
“I am hopeful we will find a few well-known horses that are having a happy time hunting.”
RoR has sponsored prizes of five days’ hunting with a pack of the winner’s choice, three days’ for the second-placed, two for the third and one for the fourth.
“Part of the competition will be timed and there will also be a mark for style,” said Di.
Alastair Jackson of the Masters of Foxhounds Association added: “This further emphasises the links between hunting and racing. Hunting is a good career for a horse out of training.”
Mike Tucker will build the “course” for the final. He has inside knowledge of hunting an ex-racer as the owner of D’Argent, who ran in the 2008 Grand National.
“D’Argent has settled into his life as a hunter — he’s rather perky, but jumps well,” said Mike.
“I hope the final will be quite light-hearted and show what these horses are capable of.”
For more information go to www.ror.org.uk
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (4 November, ’10)