A number of former racehorses, including Stakes winner Thinkin’ Big, showcased their versatility in their post-racing careers during the Royal Queensland Show (“the Ekka”) in August.
Several equestrian classes at the Brisbane Showgrounds were sponsored by Racing Queensland’s Off The Track program, with Thinkin’ Big winning both the Gelding 3YO and Over and the Champion Thoroughbred Gelding categories on his competitive debut.
The now seven-year-old earned almost $500,000 in prizemoney during his racing career with Gai Waterhouse and her training partner Adrian Bott, thanks chiefly to a stellar 2018 season which included victories in the Group 3 Gloaming Stakes at Rosehill and the Group 3 Ladbrokes Classic at Caulfield, where the beaten brigade included subsequent Victoria Derby winner Extra Brut.
The son of revered Irish stallion High Chaparral was sold to overseas interests after running in the Derby at Flemington, only to sustain an injury which brought a premature end to his career after just two starts in Hong Kong.
However, after undergoing a period of rest and rehabilitation, he was acquired by former jockey Amy Taylor who retrained him for his new career off the track.
Taylor’s last race ride was a winner, piloting Blackmore Vale to victory at Toowoomba in June 2014, after which she decided to call time on her jockey career following a series of injuries.
Having tried her hand as a trainer she decided to pursue her passion for retraining horses, with her work at Affinity Park in Queensland leading to her win in the Thoroughbred Care and Welfare category at the 2015 Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards.
She subsequently established the International Thoroughbred Retirement organisation, with their motto of Creating Futures – Tracked for Life. After his dynamic debut Thinkin’ Big is the living embodiment of that sentiment, even if he presented quite a challenge at first.
“He’s not an easy horse to retrain and he’s been quite a handful in the past, but you just have to take your time with them,” said Taylor.
“He’s a classic example that if you give them enough time to adapt to their new careers, they will come good in the end.”
Not only did Thinkin’ Big and Taylor combine to win the two classes they entered, they also landed the Best Presented Horse and Handler award.
Other sash winners at the Ekka included Toowoomba trainer Maddy Sears and her mother Leigh, who won the Best Thoroughbred in Training award with their filly Illiciate Affairs.
The pair also won the 3YO Filly class with Montana Lady, a winner of a Toowoomba Maiden two starts back.
Also supporting the Ekka was Chris Munce’s wife Cathy, who presented the recently-retired gelding Boomsara, who won the $2m 3YO Magic Million Guineas in 2019.
For more information about Racing Queensland’s Off The Track program, visit their website at https://www.racingqueensland.com.au/animal-care/off-the-track