Exeter Racecourse’s popular retired racehorse initiative enables racegoers to learn about former racehorses and at its fixture this Thursday, December 17 Nothing Is Forever, a veteran of some 58 races, will be there for people to meet.
The initiative was re-introduced this season to enable racegoers to find out more about the animals that are central to the sport.
South West Shelter’s Denis Hambley, who has supplied the stable, said: “It’s a really super thing to do and we are delighted to support it. Ex-racehorses make wonderful riding horses, once their careers have finished. We love racing but we are also keen to support any initiative that encourages people to think more about horses that make up the sport.”
Gemma Edwards was given Nothing Is Forever, or Nif as he is known at home, when he retired from racing in 2014. He’d been trained near Cullompton by Chris Down and was owned by The Globe Partnership, who include Gemma’s parents Paul and Pearl Edwards. His first success came in a maiden hurdle at Exeter in May, 2008, and he followed up with four more wins, including three at Wincanton.
He retired sound, and after a period of nine months to allow him to recover from ongoing back problems, he began his new career in the showring.
Gemma said: “He did have some issues with his back, and while he was at Chris Down’s Carolyne Allanson-Bailey started to treat him and he subsequently won two races. We continued with his treatment and Carolyne has played a key part in getting him right.
“Racehorses tend to be very easy to deal with, from handling in the stable, to loading into a lorry, to shoeing and clipping and Nif is no exception.
“All the basics are there so you tend to need to work on their schooling and teaching them a different way of going. With Nif, we had to sort out his back problems first and once we did that I was then able to start schooling him. I also have regular lessons with Richard Williams who keeps his horse at the same livery yard where I keep my horses at Liverton.”
Nif has become a regular on the local show circuit, winning many championships, both in hand and ridden, his latest victories coming at the Torbay and District Show.
Gemma is a huge supporter of both the Retraining of Racehorses and the Thoroughbred and Retraining Re-horse Association classes, which give former racehorses another opportunity to show off their abilities.
Gemma said: “Ex-racehorses do adapt really well to new careers once they retire, and anything that highlights what great riding horses they can become is great. And its fantastic that racecourse like Exeter are encouraging people to take in interest in horses. I’d say to anyone to consider taking on an ex-racehorse, but take as much advice as possible from some one who has them.”
Gemma’s aim for Nif in 2016 are the Retraining of Racehorses classes at the Devon County Show in May which are sponsored by Exeter Racecourse.
“He coped really well at Honiton Show which has a big atmosphere, so we will aim for Devon County, with a couple of smaller shows before that,” said Gemma.
Seven races feature on Exeter’s card next Thursday which comes under starters orders at 12.50pm.
There are special Festive Haldon packages available for just £30 each and discounts for pre-booked groups of ten of more with tickets costing just £10 each.
A free bus service that leaves Exeter St David’s at 11:10am and the Bus & Coach Station at 11:25am and a free racecourse tour takes place an hour before the first race, meeting outside the weighing room. Children aged 17 and under race free and admission is half price for students.