In the Irish sale, Thoroughbred owners first had to convince the sale selection committee that their horses were worthy of being offered. Here you see three horses being presented for inspection for their conformation, movement and natural jumping ability.
My prediction: the next three weeks will be a big boost for ex-racehorses. The World Equestrian Games will open a week from today in Lexington, Kentucky and a quick look at the US team is a salute to the Thoroughbred breed and to the successful retraining of racehorses. But while the team is dominated by Thoroughbreds and the lone Irish sport horses may have significant Thoroughbred blood in his pedigree, the USA's WEG team is made up of two Irish, one New Zealand, one Australian and one New York-bred Thoroughbreds, along with an Irish sport horse.
Why do Thoroughbreds from half a world away make it to the top of US eventing over American Thoroughbreds? Is there a marketing factor involved here? Are our American Thoroughbreds even making it into the pool of available horses?
A recent announcement received from Irish Thoroughbred Marketing (ITM) in conjunction with Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) made me think about this. In America, we say that we abhor sending retired racehorses to slaughter and want to see them enter second careers, but do we really market these horses? Or do we just say, "Here they are, come and get them"?
In Ireland, they had the idea to create an event that would show off the best-suited off-track Thoroughbreds to be offered as potential sport horses. Instead of moving them immediately, the program could prepare them for their new careers. The scheme includes an assessment day at an equestrian center.
On that day Thoroughbred owners were invited to bring their horses to be assessed by a panel of judges. A flat fee of ?100 was to be charged with no further charge for entry to the sale (?25 will be returned to those unsuccessful in the assessment day). Those horses deemed suitable by the judges were to be offered a place in the new Thoroughbred sport horse sale to be held in Goresbridge in September. The sale was to be promoted as a select source of top class horses for eventing, show-jumping and dressage.
Some of the horses that have been called "graduates" of sales at Goresbridge are such world-famous event horses as William Fox-Pitt's Parkmore Ed, Sharon Hunt's Tankerstown, Phillip Dutton's Connaught, Mary King's Imperial Cavalier, Clayton Fredericks's Ben Along Time, and Daisy (Dick) Berkeley's Spring Along.
International event rider Andrew Nicholson has said of the new sport horse prospect sale, "This is a great initiative. Thoroughbreds have proved time and time again to be at the forefront of the international eventing rankings and I look forward to the sale".
The Irish scheme hopes to attract Thoroughbreds aged three to seven years, broken or unbroken, raced or unraced. To learn more about the program, please contact Lorraine at Horse Sport Ireland by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org