New stars join Cheltenham Festival’s retrained racehorses’ parade

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  • A new line-up of racing heroes is to join a host of popular names in the Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) parade at the Cheltenham Festival.

    Dodging Bullets (pictured, top), Hunt Ball, Annacotty and Any Currency will make their RoR parade debut, ahead of the first race of the festival, at 12.30pm on 13 March.

    They join eight other former racehorses, including seven-time Grade One winner Silviniaco Conti, star hurdler Big Buck’s, Scottish Grand National winner Wayward Prince and The Queen’s retrained champion Barbers Shop.

    Hunt Ball (pictured, below), whose biggest win of his career came in the Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase at the 2012 Festival, is now enjoying life on the hunting field with Sarah Henderson.

    Sarah, daughter of Hunt Ball’s former trainer Nicky Henderson, said she is looking forward to taking the horse back to Cheltenham.

    “His owners, Atlantic Equine, very kindly asked if I would like to have him in his retirement,” she said.

    I was over the moon and Hunt Ball returned to Seven Barrows in June.

    “Since our reunion nine months ago we have done some cross-country schooling, gridwork and flatwork to help retrain him for his new life as a hunter.

    “It’s not all been plain sailing, as hacking out at Seven Barrows on his own often proved a bit much, all he wanted to do was re-join the string.

    “But since we moved him to a livery yard in Kingston Lisle, he has really blossomed.”

    The combination have been hunting with the Old Berks and Vine & Craven, and Sarah said the gelding “loves watching hounds”.

    “Hunt Ball is hugely intelligent with an abundance of character,” she said.

    “This year, after the Cheltenham parade, I am aiming to do some RoR classes and perhaps even a one-day event with him, but our shared number one passion remains hunting.”

    Dodging Bullets has started retraining for his new life in dressage and showjumping with Lucy Sharp, who cared for him during his racing career.

    The 10-year-old, by Dubawi, was formerly trained by Paul Nicholls and won the 2015 Queen Mother Champion Chase.

    He was retired from racing after he was pulled up in the Grand Annual Chase at last year’s festival.
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    Annacotty, who is pursuing a second career in showing and showjumping, enjoyed three Cheltenham victories before his retirement in 2017.

    He has been retrained by Hannah Bishop, racing manager to his owner Liz Prowting. He has been trained to carry a side-saddle and the long-term aim is to compete in working hunter and RoR Challenge classes this season.

    Also taking part are 2009 Champion Hurdle winner Punjabi, who is now enjoying hunting and hunter trials, Grade One winner Back In Focus, who lost an eye in a freak accident in 2015 and is thriving in his new career of team chasing and hunting, and 2017 RoR National Champion Wild West.

    RoR chief executive Di Arbuthnot said it is “wonderful” the RoR parades have become so popular.

    “Our sincere thanks [go] to Cheltenham for providing the opportunity for the public to see how well these retired racehorses have adapted to a second career,” she said.

    “Special thanks also to the Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust for their generous support as sponsors of the RoR parades and musical ride for 2018.”

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