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Ex-racer shines off the track


He’s the son of Falvelon who chalked-up wins at Ipswich and on the Gold Coast and is now competing at Grand Prix level show jumping under Queensland Off-The-Track Acknowledged Retrainer Deziree Roos.


Powerful Sphere’s modest racing career has been completely overshadowed by the feats he has achieved in a decade away from the track.


The rising 16-year-old has been under Deziree’s care since he was retired after his last race at Kilcoy in June 2012 when he was seventh in a field of nine in a Class 3.


It was the last of 30 starts that included a maiden win over 1800 metres at the Gold Coast and two triumphs at Ipswich over 1700 metres.


Now named Thomas, you won’t find a horse that tries harder than the gelding, said Deziree, a coveted rider who has won multiple State Championships across a range of disciplines including Equitation, Show jumping, Dressage and Eventing.


“I have ridden him since he was on the track as a four-year-old and last year we had our first Grand Prix start,” she said.


“He is still challenging at times, but as soon as you enter the arena, you won’t find a horse with a bigger heart than his.”


Deziree is one of 13 retainers in the Queensland Off-The-Track (QOTT) Acknowledged Retainers Program.


The program was launched in January 2022 as part of a suite of programs to support a high-quality first transition for thoroughbred and standardbred horses into an off-the-track career.


QOTT is funded by a one percent racing prize money levy to support equine welfare initiatives in Queensland.


So far, 16 thoroughbreds and standardbreds have graduated through the Acknowledged Retrainers Program in just six months, with a further 12 currently in training.


Deziree’s accreditation comes on top of her extensive experience over more than a decade in the thoroughbred industry, from breeding and sales preparation to pre-training and riding trackwork.


While she ‘adopted’ Thomas, her aim is to retrain every thoroughbred or standardbred that comes into her care for the purpose of being rehomed or repurposed.


“I love helping the OTT’s find their new passion in life, whatever that may be,” she said.


“Knowing that I have helped create honest, well-behaved horses that will always be able to find loving homes.


“I believe there is a perfect home for every racehorse that retires, to be able to help place them in that home and watch them in their new life is so rewarding.


“I believe we owe that to all of them at the very least.”


She said the QOTT Program ensured the horses continued to learn in a positive way and that thoroughbreds were highly adaptable to all disciplines, and some were faster learners than others.


“There is absolutely nothing a thoroughbred cannot do,” she said.


“Some horses take to their new careers in one ride, some take 20.


“It’s our job to understand this and keep them as happy and comfortable as we can whilst continuing their education in a positive way.”

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