For most event riders the warmer months mean it’s time to kick up their heels and turn their horses out, but for an elite group of horse and rider combinations the competition is only just heating up.
The blue sky above Perth’s skyline wasn’t the only view to be gawked at on Saturday. Eventing in the Park hit Taylor Reserve alongside the pristine Swan River for another year and spectators flocked to take in the sights.
The two class card hosted over ninety of the finest horse and rider duos, with nearly half of them boasting an off the track athlete and a small handful showcasing a racing professional.
With the spot light well and truly focused on off the track horses, the racing personalities who fluctuate between the two fields deserve their time to shine as well.
Karnup thoroughbred trainer Rebecca Nairn partnered with her retired galloper Mystery Mark (raced as All Must Pass) finishing a respectable fourteenth out of sixty in the highly competitive Diamond Class. An experienced combination who in their four years together have claimed a number of winning titles.
Mystery Mark had a short and unsuccessful racing career, proving early that his heart belonged on a cross country course and not a race track.
However the same thing cannot be said for Nairn who is firmly planted in both fields.
Having held her thoroughbred training licence for over a decade, Nairn understands that there is an overlay between her eventing background and her training methods.
“Being an event rider has taught me that there is more than one way to train a horse, there are so many different approaches you can take to strengthen their weaker aspects so they perform at their best.” She said.
“Some horses benefit from being taught dressage movements and learning to jump, some need to swim regularly, the list goes on.”
After an impressive round on Saturday, Nairn commented on the bravery of her mount;
“He will try anything that I ask him to do, that’s the beauty of the thoroughbred, they’re so versatile and they try so hard.”
“Eventing in the Park wouldn’t have been possible without brilliant sponsors. I also need to thank Southern Stars Saddlery who not only sponsored prizes for both classes, but sponsor myself and Marco. Without them I probably wouldn’t be here,” she said.
Nairn was not flying the flag for thoroughbred trainers solo. The Diamond Class also featured Bullsbrook trainer Tiarnna Robertson who took out second place after an impressive season aboard her mare Phantom Hideaway.
Glenys Davies is no newbie to the Eventing in the Park stage, nor was she to the racing game before she hung up her trainer and breeder boots last year.
Davies’ team mate Awzam, has brought home two seconds from his four Eventing in the Park starts. A record a little more promising than his racing career under Davies’ name where his twenty starts only held one win and one third.
“He hasn’t changed much, he’s always been athletic and he showed a lot of potential as a young horse, just never delivered it on the track.” Davies said.
Davies was proudly sponsored by Off the Track for this event and is recognised as a thoroughbred retainer.
“I think Off the Track is brilliant! They put so much back into the equestrian industry whether it be eventing, show-horse, dressage, anything and everything.”
The Diamond Class also saw two other competitors don the Off the Track colours. Chantell Wells and Lana Brandli were both proudly sponsored by Off the Track WA.
Wells has spent the past few years working on a thoroughbred stud, but ironically it was her standardbred mare that was a show stopper on Saturday.
Known as Whitby’s Revival, the gutsy pint-sized mare stunned the crowds as she brought home seventh place in the Diamond Class with Wells in the saddle.
With a family background that has long running connections to the sport and a successful driving career herself there’s no doubt that Brandli has harness racing running through her veins.
Brandli had two rides in the Diamond Class, her retired Standardbred Niccolana Wild and her retired galloper Hazid Road, both putting in big performances.
Brandli and Wells are assets to the Off the Track team. They work tirelessly alongside Off the Track WA’s Sharon Joyce, in supporting Western Australian retired racehorses in pursuing second careers post racing.
On the contrary, Eventing in the Park show-cased some of the best young blood that the state has to offer.
At the tender age of 17, Tayah Andrews is known as one of Perth’s most promising junior event riders and is one to watch when it comes to potential career in racing.
The racing game has clearly already ignited a spark within Andrews, she is a current holder of a track-work licence and assists in the training of the family’s racehorses.
Aboard her Thoroughbred Silver Force, Andrews took out the Grand Prix competition and drove away with the grand prize – a McInerney Ford Kuga.
When the celebrations died down, Andrews made some time to comment on the yearly event;
“The whole thing was amazing. Eventing in the Park is a great way to showcase our sport to the general public. It’s also an opportunity to share the love we have of our horses to fellow equestrians, particularly those in the racing industry from which we acquire our off the track thoroughbreds.”
It’s easy to see that the racing industry contains some of the most resilient and dedicated competitors.
It’s becoming impossible to go to an equestrian event and not bump into someone involved in horse racing. The racing industry and equestrian industry really do go hand in hand.
Most certainly there were a few names that were missed. More people are taking the drive into the world of racing every week.
And those who have, have never looked back.