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No secret about Nicole's Off-The-Track favourite

Nicole Condon has had several thoroughbreds in her care as a Queensland Off-The-Track (QOTT) Acknowledged Retrainer, but it’s no secret who her favourite is.

The Burpengary-based retrainer has forged a special connection with Magician’s Secret, an eight-year-old who was formerly trained by David Stafford and retired after 11 starts in 2018.

“I got him as three-year-old and was showjumping him for a few years but unfortunately, he’s now retired with kissing spine,” Nicole said.

“He’s happily retired now in the paddock from showjumping, but he’s my absolute heart horse and he will never go anywhere.”

It was a somewhat rocky start for the partnership after Nicole came off the back of the Man Of Illusion-Evening Shadows gelding while getting him up to speed in a cross-country lesson.

“To be honest I don’t really remember what happened…it was a rotational fall over a jump and I was knocked unconscious as soon as I hit the ground and turns out I’d fractured my T7 vertebrae so I was three months out of the saddle with that,” Nicole said.

But after recovering and literally getting back on the horse, Nicole guided Magician’s Secret to an against-the-odds third placing in the 4YO Thoroughbred class at the Aquis Champions Tour in 2018.

“It was only a month’s worth of prep to get this four-year-old off-the-track ready for the tour and somehow we managed to pull it altogether and do it well, it was very rewarding,” Nicole said.

“He was just so young so I took it very steady with him those first couple of months.

“I was thinking I would have those few extra months up my sleeve but unfortunately with the accident everything just sort of got condensed and all the training got brought into a really short timeframe.

“He was never flustered, he was never overwhelmed - he was unbelievable.

“I don’t think there would have been a lot of other horses out there that would have been able to do it in such a short timeframe but his brain and his ability and his temperament was just second to none.”

Nicole’s passion for thoroughbreds started at a young age and continued into her adult life, spurring her on to become an QOTT Acknowledged Retrainer.

“I grew up riding ex-racehorses, showjumping through pony club and even before the QOTT Acknowledged Retrainers Program I was taking them off the track, and training and rehoming,” she said.

“So when I saw an opportunity to become a part of the program and all the wonderful work that QOTT are doing, I just wanted to be a part of that just to continue building the acknowledgement of the horses and their post-racing lives.”

Along with Magicians Secret, Nicole currently has Galaxy Guru and Swift Miss Fox in her care, and previously rehomed the Chris Anderson-trained Connoisseur, who took home $190,000 across a seven-win career before retiring in 2020.

She is always on the lookout for her next thoroughbred to assist in the transition to the post-racing life, and continuing the work of the QOTT Program.

“I think since the program has started, the profile of the off-the-track horses and the work that the program is doing has just grown and become so much more well known,” Nicole said.

“I just think it’s super important about advertising and getting the word out about Queensland Off-The-Track and everything that the QOTT Program can do.

“Getting a great start to their life after racing is so, so important!

“Having a network of QOTT Acknowledged Retrainers experienced in retraining off-the-track horses, not to mention the Subsidised Lessons Program are wonderful initiatives and gives more OTT horses an opportunity to a great start to their new careers.

“There is no better feeling for me than getting an update from an owner of a horse that I retrained, saying they are absolutely in love with their horse and are kicking goals.

“I love seeing horses that I have retrained out and about competing, doing trail rides or just being loved by their new owners.”


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