Aintree specialist Saint Are has made a winning debut in the show ring after retiring from racing last year.
The 13-year-old ran in the Grand National five times and had a total of 13 starts at Aintree.
He is now enjoying learning the ropes in his second career with Justine Armstrong-Small and Rebecca Court, who retrained the 2017 Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) horse of the year Beware Chalk Pit.
His first win was at a local showing show at Brook Farm in Essex and he also finished second on his dressage debut with a score of 70% in January.
Trained by Tim Vaughan and most recently by Tom George, Saint Are (“Arnie”) won the the Grade One Sefton Novices’ Hurdle in 2011 and the John Smith’s Handicap Chase over the Mildmay fences the following year. His best results in the National came in 2015, where he finished second to Many Clouds, and 2017, where he finished third to victor One For Arthur and runner-up Cause Of Causes.
He was brought down at the Chair in his final start in the race last year, before falling again while loose later in the race and was attended to on course.
“After being brought down at the Chair and giving everyone a bit of a scare he returned to trainer Tom George’s yard to be let down and the turned away for the summer holiday,” Rebecca told H&H, adding he joined them in August.
“We have bought him back into work very slowly, spending the first three months only hacking him really — gradually through lots of ground work and varied activities we have built up his schooling and he is coming along really well.
“He is extremely intelligent and immediately understands what you are asking him, he is very kind and willing and enjoys having tasks to focus on.”
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She added it will take time for Arnie’s muscles to develop, his frame to fill out to his 17hh hunter stamp and for him to settle into his new role, but “all the early signs are promising”.
“We aren’t in any rush with him and he will get all the time he needs,” said Rebecca, adding his owners, the Are Saint Syndicate, are all keen to be part of his journey from racehorse to riding horse.
“He is a phenomenal sit on, a huge stride and so much power he just floats across the ground. He’s also go great presence; a key factor for show horses!”
Arnie will now do some dressage, clinics, training classes and possibly some novice RoR or novice hunter classes over the spring, with the hope that he will also compete in lightweight hunter classes eventually.
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