Western Australian retired thoroughbred racehorse Bullionaire has taken giant strides to be on the verge of Australian selection at the Rio Olympics later this year.
Bullionaire and his Albany rider, Sonja Johnson’s, bid for selection in the Australian Olympic Equestrian team will gather momentum this weekend.
The pair have travelled east and if they produce a competitive performance in the Sydney International Horse Trials this weekend, a trip to Rio beckons.
Albany resident Johnson, who commenced riding before she was 4 years of age is looking to go one better after winning a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Her hopes rest with Bullionaire, who retired from Thoroughbred racing after just one start and three trials for previous trainer, Ted Martinovich.
Now aged 15, Bullionaire is also known as ‘Ben’ in the equestrian world and competes under the name Parkiarrup Illicit Liaison.
Ben has made a solid impression in the equestrian discipline of Eventing, comprising Dressage, Show jumping and Cross country jumps.
Sonja and Ben are supported by the Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA) Off the Track program, which supports and promotes the suitability of retired racehorses for second careers.
Johnson, who was named Australian Event Rider of the Year in 1996, said Bullionaire had made the perfect transition from Thoroughbred racing.
“I am really happy with the way he is going,” Johnson said.
“He’s still a wonderful ambassador for what you can do with these wonderful Thoroughbreds off the track.
“I have never bought a made horse, I have made every horse I had.
“All my good horses have been off the track Thoroughbreds.”