Hong Kong stars at Trentham
Trentham racecourse will host the first appearance of NZ Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) welfare ambassadors Werther and Ping Hai Star on Saturday.
The duo, both former Hong Kong Derby winners, are retired from racing and currently enjoying life as “nannies” at Palmerston North’s Highden Park.
Libby Bleakley, who along with husband Sam owns Highden Park, was delighted “the boys” would be given the opportunity to promote horse welfare and the many opportunities available for retired thoroughbreds.
“These horses love having something to do, they love having a job. They look after weanlings for us and they go on the truck to keep mares company, and I think they will thrive with this next step,” she said.
Werther, a dual Hong Kong Horse of the Year, and Ping Hai Star, who fashioned a brilliant record from a limited career in Hong Kong, will be paraded after the second race at Trentham, around 1.20pm.
Online bloodstock sales company Gavelhouse.com is also supporting the welfare ambassadors, having decked both horses out with custom made halters.
The concept of Welfare Ambassadors is a new one for NZTR and is part of an ongoing programme around welfare and traceability.
“While those within the industry are well aware of the fact that our thoroughbreds, even in retirement, are extremely well looked after and often go on to rewarding second careers in other equestrian pursuits, there is a lot of misinformation out there,” Martin Burns, NZTR’s GM Welfare & Sustainability said.
“Allowing people to see horses like Werther and Ping Hai Star who have been foaled in New Zealand, raced here and offshore, and have now come back here to retire, helps reinforce the message that thoroughbreds are for life.”
Last weekend NZTR had a presence at Equifest in Taupo to further drive the traceability message and were overwhelmed by the number of thoroughbreds they learned about now leading lives off the track.
“Over the course of the three days of Equifest our team spoke with the owners of more than 100 off-track thoroughbreds, from the unraced, through to Group level performers. As well as competing in eventing, show jumping and polo, these horses were filling roles as pony club mounts, happy hackers or even paddock mates,” Burns said.
“Their current owners were delighted to share the stories of their horses and of course, this also assists us in our traceability aims.”