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Off-The-Track Competitors set for EKKA Showcase


Competitors from across the country are set to descend on the Brisbane Showgrounds for the Queensland Off-The-Track Program Showcase at next month’s Royal Queensland Show from August 12-20.


The nation’s most lucrative showjumping event for retired racehorses will take centre stage for the first time at the Ekka, which runs from August 12-20.


Held in the Main Arena, the new competition will offer Australia’s largest prize money pool presently on offer for a showjumping class exclusively for retired racehorses.


An incredible $50,000 is up for grabs, including $10,000 to the winner and paying down to 30th place.


QOTT Acknowledged Retrainer Kylie Zabel will take part in the event on retired racehorse Dusty Girl and is looking forward to showcasing the best of the QOTT Program in the new event.


“It’s a fantastic opportunity for the Off-The-Track Thoroughbreds, and it’ll also highlight the OTT horses to the public and showcase them in this feature event,” Ms Zabel said.


“It’s really great sponsorship that Queensland Off-The-Track have put on for the event and it’s quite exciting actually.


“I’m sure the big prize money pool will attract some showjumpers and probably eventers as well, far and wide I’d imagine – they’ll be keen to be in the running for that.”


An experienced rider with three decades of experience in the saddle, Kylie won the Queensland Amateur Showjumper of the Year in 2018 and 2019 and placed third in the Australian OTT Show Jumping Championships in 2019, again on Dusty Girl.


While she’s hoping to repeat that success at the Ekka, it’s her work as an Acknowledged Retrainer in the QOTT Program that is also providing plenty of satisfaction.


“I think the QOTT Program is amazing – they’ve started to get some recognition for the off-the-trackers and you can see already that demand for off the track jumping horses is getting bigger,” Ms Zabel said.


“Even people are starting to choose the Thoroughbreds over some of the Warmbloods purely for the classes that are on offer.


“It just means that these horses now have that opportunity to compete and have a life after racing.”


RNA Chief Executive Brendan Christou said the new showjumping category for OTT horses had drawn plenty of attention from across Australia, forming part of a bumper program of events over seven days.


“The excitement kicks off on Monday 14 August with the glamorous Thoroughbred and Standardbred Day and the Queensland Off-The-Track Program Showcase,” Mr Christou said.


“The showcase certainly attracted great interest amongst the Thoroughbred, Standardbred and racing communities with 53 entries.


Mr Christou added that the Ekka’s prestigious Thoroughbred and Standardbred horse and showjumping competitions would offer a spectacular variety of events, with more than 2,200 entries across 572 competition classes.


“Horses have been an Ekka highlight since the very first show in 1876,” he said.


“This year, horse enthusiasts will be delighted to see more than 15 breeds of horses from huge Clydesdales to small Shetland Ponies showcased over seven days of judging (Monday 14 to Sunday 20 August).


“Other highlights this year include two new children’s competition classes – Child's Show Pony Galloway & Hack and Child's Show Hunter Galloway & Hack (judged on August 20), as well as a new class called Senior and Junior, which will see pairs of people enter from mentors and students to siblings and grandparents and grandchildren (judged August 19).


“I would like to pay tribute to all entrants, as we know the quality and standard of the horses on show at the Ekka in 2023 will be exceptional.”


More than 400,000 people are expected to attend this year’s Ekka.


More information about the showjumping schedule is available on the Ekka’s website at ekka.com.au


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