THE second day of this year’s Balmoral Show, Thursday, September 23, saw the Racehorse to Riding Horse class, sponsored by the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (ITBA) taking place in the Main Arena at 12.15pm.
Once again, the class attracted great interest in terms of both horse and rider. The judges, Noel Chance and Patrick Mullins, had a difficult task in making the final selections. In the end, it was Jamie Buckley aboard ‘Woodland Opera’, who were deemed the first in class.
‘Woodland Opera’ (‘Woody’), an 11-year-old gelding, was bred by Valerie and Diana Cooper and had a successful racing career trained by Jessica Harrington. Following his retirement, Jamie Buckley took on the task of retraining him. Judging by last Thursday’s performance, it looks like ‘Woodland Opera’ has found a new and exciting second career.
Patrick Mullins said: “It was a pleasure to judge the Racehorse to Riding Horse class and it was brilliant to see how well the horses looked. I was delighted to be asked by the ITBA to judge this class at Balmoral. It was wonderful to see racehorses being given an opportunity to go on to a second career after retiring from the track. I think I’ll have to brush up on my flat work skills, but hopefully the horses enjoyed the day at much as I did!”
Commenting, Kerry Ryan of the ITBA said: “ITBA has proudly sponsored this class since 2017, as part of its welfare initiative.
“It’s wonderful to see retired racehorses being given a second career and for them to be so clearly enthused about rising to the challenge and enjoying the opportunity awarded to them.”