The Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover just finished it’s 5th year. I’ve been lucky enough to have been to the last two and started following the Retired Racehorse Project since back in it’s beginning with the 100-Day Thoroughbred Challenge. It has been a great pleasure to watch this event grow up into the large show it is today. There were somewhere around 300 Thoroughbreds that showed October 5th – 7th at Kentucky Horse Park this year and the winner was Polo winner Old Tavern and junior rider Charlie Caldwell!
The whole thing started back in 2010, but the first Makeover didn’t happen until 2013 at Pimlico where it featured just 26 trainers and horses demonstrating their retrained skills. In 2014 it was was at Pimlico again and the America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred competition was added with 10 horses in 10 disciplines and online voting for the winner (Icabad Crane and trainer Phillip Dutton).
In 2015 there was a major shift from demonstration event to horse show. It moved to the Kentucky Horse Park and grew to a whole new level of just under 200 horses showing and the America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred winner was Soar and trainer/rider Lindsey Partridge. In 2016 the event grew again to just under 300 horses and the winner was Fairway King, trained and ridden by Lauren Turner. In 2017, the event again drew around 300 horses after scratches and was won by a junior rider in Polo! Not the winner anyone expected (I expected it to go to multi-discipline winning Woodford Channel or the dressage winner/eventing runner up horse Chapter Two).
The event this year made some changes over last and many were for the better (moving from the Big Barn to the arena for the evening party was a good move for instance and having the clinics on Sunday, though the weather wasn’t cooperative this year). The biggest thing I think the show is now lacking is the education part of the event, which has clearly taken a back seat to the enormous show. I think they have a lot of time on Gala evening to fill and should use that time next year for education/demonstration/entertainment to get people to stick around. It seemed like a wasted opportunity and I spent the time eating my dinner in my seat talking about how much better it would be if they had something going on in the arena. I think it would be very interesting to include some Thoroughbreds that have really “made it” in their second careers to really drive home the point of these animals being useful and entertain the crowed gathered for the Gala (and maybe convince them to stay and shop longer since there’s not much time for shopping the way everything is laid out now).
The show was a big success from my point of view and I can only hope that I have an excuse to go in 2018!
Barrel Racing – Mindy Stoops on Not So Silver
Competitive Trail – Franny Galvin-Hynes on The Bowie Van
Dressage – Alison Wilaby on Chapter Two
Eventing – Allison Thompson on Cactus Willie
Field Hunter – Lauren Burke on Woodford Channel
Freestyle – Lauren Burke on Woodford Channel
Polo – Charlie Caldwell on Old Tavern
Show Hunter – Charlotte Cannon on Seeking Fame
Show Jumper – Isabela de Souse on Late Night Mark
Working Ranch – Russel Littlefield on Think Global