By Kate Green
The Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) dressage competitions during the first two days of the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials demonstrated the perfect synergy between the sport of eventing and its brand-new organisers, The Jockey Club.
A huge field of 56 came forward for the Preliminary contest, which was won by Jo Bearcroft riding Mr and Mrs Robert Mayall’s home-bred Double Silver at their first competition under the prestigious RoR banner.
The elegant grey mare, winner of three races for trainer Fergal O’Brien, came to Jo’s yard after a serendipitous meeting with her owner-breed, Robert Mayle, at the chiropractor.
Jo, who has four other “recycled” racehorses that all compete in dressage and eventing and are hunted with the North Cotswold, explained: “He wanted to know what could be done in retirement with his poorly mare who had had a foal die inside her. I just love Thoroughbreds – I’ve been riding them since I was 13.”
Jessica Davies won the Medium class on Barrison, another 14-year-old grey, bred by Margaret Cuff and formerly trained by Dan Skelton to win his last two races in 2014.
The Novice class fell to Angela Rowberry (pictured above), a PA from Abberley, Worcestershire, who was making her RoR debut on The Jigger, after a test described by judges Anne Bostock and Brenda Evans as “poetry in motion”. The handsome white-faced bay gelding originally belonged to prominent racing owner JP McManus and was bought as a five-year-old out of Alan King’s yard.
The RoR is British Horseracing’s official charity, launched 21 years ago to promote the retraining of horses when their racing careers end, to fund competitions and to oversee their care and rehoming.