On the first day of The Festival, Champion Day, Tuesday 15th March, there will be a star-studded RoR Parade of previous Festival heroes who have since gone on to excel in a second career after retiring from racing.
Included in the Retraining of Racehorses’ (RoR) parade, is Gold Cup winner, Denman, and Champion Hurdle winner, Punjabi, as well as two Arkle winners and a Grand National winner.
This year’s Racing Post RoR Parade also features horses from outside Great Britain. The former Francois Doumen-trained Kasbah Bliss, a World Hurdle runner-up, travels over from France and joins three Irish-based horses, Racing Post Arkle Chase winners Sizing Europe and Forpadydeplasterer, both of whom are now enjoying success in the show-ring, and Mikael D’Haguenet.
Remarkably, nine of the 10 horses in the 2016 Parade ran at the 2009 Festival and five of them were victorious. Heading the ‘Class of 09’ reunion is Champion Hurdle winner, Punjabi, who makes his RoR Parade debut.
Since his retirement from racing, Punjabi has been in the care of Rachael Kempster (both pictured), who is based at Kinsale Stud in Shropshire, and the pair have recently started competing in dressage competitions.
Rachael describes Punjabi as a “one in a million horse”, adding: “He is one of the easiest thoroughbreds I have ever had to deal with. He loves his new job and is adapting really well to dressage.
“This horse means such a lot to me and we’re really excited about being a part of the Racing Post RoR Parade.”
The other four Festival winners in the line-up from the ‘Class of 09’ are Cappa Bleu, Forpadydeplasterer, Mikael D’Haguenet and Oh Crick.
The parades were introduced in 2008 by the charity, Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), to showcase the adaptability of racehorses when re-trained for a second career.
They are now an established part of the major Jump racing festivals at Cheltenham and Aintree, with an additional parade planned for the first time in 2016 at Ayr during the Scottish Grand National meeting.
Di Arbuthnot, Chief Executive of RoR, said: “It is important for us when putting on the parades to not only include former heroes and old favourites but also horses that have proven their adaptability in other disciplines.
“So we are delighted to have a parade line-up this year that has strength in depth in both categories, 10 class racehorses, each one now excelling in another activity.
“We are also delighted to welcome horses from France and Ireland into the parade. We are working increasingly closely with other racing nations in promoting the adaptability of former racehorses and Kasbah Bliss, on his return to France, will take up duties at the Living Museum of the Horse in Chantilly as a prime example of that.
“We would like to thank the Racing Post for their sponsorship of the parades in 2016. The £12,000 raised from the sale of their Christmas jumpers has generously been given to the charity and via the parades it will significantly help raise awareness of the work we do, which includes education of owners and care for vulnerable horses, as well as creating opportunities for former racehorses.”
The parade will take place at 12.30pm, an hour before the first race, on Tuesday, 15th March. Details of the 10 horses participating, together with their riders and their current activities, are listed below.
Racing Post RoR Parade line-up, Cheltenham 2016
COMPLY OR DIE (Dressage) – Ridden by Chelsea Pearce
17-year-old by Old Vic, formerly trained by David Pipe
The 2008 Grand National winner retired from racing in 2011, initially being used as a lead horse for the young horses and also going hunting, which he loves. Recently, Comply Or Die has taken up dressage and it turns out he not only enjoys it, he is also quite good at it. Last year he qualified for the RoR dressage finals at ‘Intro’ level and finished a very creditable seventh. Comply Or Die continues to do a combination of hunting and dressage and is again aiming to qualify for the RoR dressage finals.
CAPPA BLEU (Dressage & Showing) – Ridden by Jane O’Brien
14-year-old by Pistolet Bleu, formerly trained by Evan Williams
The winner of the 2009 Foxhunter Chase at The Festival and runner-up in the 2013 Grand National, Cappa Bleu retired from racing after a seven-year career, in February 2015. He moved to Jane O’Brien to start his retraining and the pair have since attended RoR clinics, taken part in fun rides and competed in low level unaffiliated dressage competitions. He moves very well and Jane is looking forward to doing more dressage and some showing this summer.
DENMAN (Team Chasing) – Ridden by Charlotte Alexander
16-year-old by Presenting, formerly trained by Paul Nicholls
The winner of the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup, Denman, retired from racing in 2011 after a career that saw him win 14 of his 24 races. He moved to Charlotte Alexander’s yard and, before making his hunting debut, Denman did some sponsored rides to acclimatise to life outside of racing. Charlotte says that Denman took to hunting “like a duck to water. He jumps everything from walls and rails to ditches and hedges”. In addition to Hunting and Team Chasing, Denman has been to Cheltenham to school around the cross-country fences, which he thoroughly enjoyed.
FORPADYDEPLASTERER (Hunting/showing) – Ridden by Joanne Quirke
14-year-old by Moscow Society, formerly trained by Thomas Cooper
The winner of the 2009 Racing Post Arkle Chase, Forpadydeplasterer retired from racing in 2013 after a successful eight-year career. He is still owned by the Goat Racing Syndicate and is now based with Joanne Quirke in Ireland. In winter ‘Pady’ is a regular on the hunting field with the Ward Union Staghounds and then in the summer he and Joanne turn their hand to showing, including competing in sidesaddle classes. In the show-ring, ‘Pady’ has won the Racehorse to Riding Horse class at the Royal Dublin Show for the last two years.
KASBAH BLISS (Dressage) – Ridden by Kirsteen Reid
14-year-old by Kahyasi, formerly trained by Francois Doumen
Runner-up in the 2008 World Hurdle, Kasbah Bliss retired from racing in 2013 after a 10-year career. He returned to the Doumen’s stud farm in Normandy, where he was bred, and after a break at grass he was hacked around the surrounding forest and took part in a 22km charity ride. He was then retrained under the guidance of an international dressage champion. On his return to France, Kasbah Bliss will be taking up residency at the world famous Musee du Cheval (the Living Museum of the Horse) under the care of its director Sophie Bienaime, and where the Grandes Ecuries (Grand Stables) provide the stunning backdrop to Chantilly Racecourse.
MIKAEL D’HAGUENET (Dressage) – Ridden by Lesley Sutton
12-year-old by Lavirco, formerly trained by Willie Mullins
A three-time Grade 1 winner and winner of the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival, Mikael D’Haguenet retired in 2014 after an eight-year racing career. He has had surgery to treat a case of ‘kissing spine’ and therefore no longer does any jumping or goes hunting. Instead his regular rider Lesley Sutton is concentrating on dressage. The pair have already competed successfully at Elementary level and will be moving up a grade this year.
OH CRICK (Eventing) – Ridden by Holly Nicholson
13-year-old by Nikos, formerly trained by Alan King
The winner of the 2009 Grand Annual Chase, Oh Crick retired from racing in 2014. Under Holly Nicholson’s care and training, Oh Crick has adapted well to his new lifestyle. The combination started with some dressage competitions before going on to win their first combined training event and doing a cross-country fun ride. The plan is to compete in RoR eventing classes this year, to which end the pair are currently in training. Last year Holly and Oh Crick also completed the RoR Racecourse to Racecourse ride from Stratford to Warwick.
PUNJABI (Dressage) – Ridden by Rachael Kempster (pictured)
13-year-old by Komaite, formerly trained by Nicky Henderson and David Pipe
The winner of the 2009 Champion Hurdle, Punjabi retired from racing at the end of 2013 and started a new life in the care of Rachael Kempster at Kinsale Stud. After being given a break and time to acclimatise to life out of training, he is back in full work and has competed in some unaffiliated dressage competitions with Rachael. He is showing a real aptitude for his new career and Rachael is looking forward to doing some more dressage classes with him with the objective of going affiliated.
SIZING EUROPE (Showing) – Ridden by Rosemary Connors
14-year-old by Pistolet Bleu, formerly trained by Henry de Bromhead
Victorious in the 2010 Racing Post Arkle Chase, the 2011 Queen Mother Champion Chase and subsequently twice runner-up in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Sizing Europe only came out of training and started his retraining with Rosemary Connors in May, 2015. A light summer campaign included an outing to Dungarvan Show in July, where he won his show class. The plan is to compete in more shows this summer as he progresses and develops in his new career.
TRANQUIL SEA (Eventing) – Ridden by Clemmie Shipp
14-year-old by Sea Raven, formerly trained by Edward O’Grady and Warren Greatrex
The winner of the 2009 running of the Paddy Power Gold Cup, Tranquil Sea ran at the Cheltenham Festival four times. He was retired from racing last year following his run in the Grand National and returned to his owners to start his retraining. After being given time to recover from a racing injury, Tranquil Sea and Clemmie Shipp are now competing in dressage classes and have been placed every time. The ambition is to start eventing in June and in the meantime they will also be competing in some RoR showing classes.