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22 August 2022

RoR stars assemble for National Championships at Aintree

The Jockey Club RoR National Championships, Europe’s largest event exclusively for retrained racehorses, gets underway at the Aintree International Equestrian Centre on Tuesday 23rd August. Five days of competition, including classes in dressage, arena eventing, show jumping and showing, culminates with the Elite Performance Awards on Champions’ Day, Saturday 27th August.

A total of 280 former racehorses have been entered to compete at Aintree over the five days. Included among the entries is a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Coneygree, a King George VI Chase winner, Thistlecrack, and a July Cup winner, Limato, all competing on a level playing field against horses with less celebrated racing careers, many of which have gone on to enjoy notable success in their second career, helped by the opportunities provided by Retraining of Racehorses (RoR).

Returning to defend their title are 2021’s Elite Performance Award winners for showing, Minella Rebellion and rider Katie Dashwood. The 10-year-old gelding retired from racing a maiden after five starts for trainer Nicky Henderson but has enjoyed a rapid rise through the ranks in showing. As well as winning at Aintree last year, Minella Rebellion and Katie Dashwood were victorious at the 2021 Horse of the Year Show and more recently in an open class against non-thoroughbreds when winning the amateur riding horse championship at the Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead.

Another horse entered for Aintree with a less than distinguished racing CV is the 18-year-old gelding, Sierra’s Future, winner of the 2022 final of the Tattersalls RoR Scottish Show Series. On the track, Sierra’s Future had a four-race flat career before being retired in 2008, fourteen years later he is in the best form of his life and with rider Lauren Thomson enjoyed a career highlight when winning at the Royal Highland Show in June.

New to this year, the dressage classes at Aintree are now run under the banner of the RoR National Dressage Championships. Previously known as the Northern Dressage Championships, the addition of qualifying regional championships in Scotland, Wales and the North has led to the establishment of the RoR National Dressage Championships at Aintree, catering for all levels from Introductory and Novice through to Medium and Special for the Elite Performance Award.

Included among the horses entered in the RoR National Dressage Championships are former Royal Ascot winner, Namibian, who has represented Great Britain in Para Dressage with rider Julie Frizzell, and Forth Bridge, a winner on the flat, over hurdles and fences for Her Majesty the Queen. Under the care of Louise Robson, who specialises in retraining racehorses for dressage, Forth Bridge has quickly adapted to his new discipline following his retirement from racing in 2020.

Speaking on behalf of the The Jockey Club, Sulekha Varma, Clerk of the Course at Aintree Racecourse and North West Head of Racing for Jockey Club Racecourses, said: “We are once again delighted to welcome The Jockey Club RoR National Championships to the Aintree International Equine Centre, the second year that The Jockey Club has been headline sponsor.

“Retraining of Racehorses performs a vital role for the racing industry in providing opportunities for so many former racehorses to flourish in a second career and incentives for the wider equestrian community to take on a thoroughbred.

“Across the five days, it is a pleasure to see close to three hundred former racehorses looking so well, thriving in their second careers and enjoying their visit to Aintree.”

Di Arbuthnot, Chief Executive of Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), added: “Our thanks to The Jockey Club, for their continued support. For many of our members The Jockey Club RoR National Championships are among the highlights of their year. For them, the early mornings and cold starts in the winter and the travelling to local shows in a bid qualify for Aintree are all worth it when they get here and have the opportunity to compete on a national stage.

“It is now seven years since RoR’s first national championship show and in that time it has grown and evolved significantly, but without losing its aspirational qualities. In terms of protecting the welfare of retired racehorses, building a pyramid of classes and competitions to encourage participation is just as important as our equine welfare safety net, which ensures expert care is provided for any horse needing charitable support.”

Coverage of all classes staged in the indoor arena of International Equestrian Centre over the five days will be live-streamed through providing an opportunity to further increase awareness of the versatility of the thoroughbred and the high standards achieved by competitors at The Jockey Club RoR National Championships.

For full list of horses entered click here.

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