Catherine Nell and SLM Mercedes

Thoroughbreds take centre stage in Sunday's coveted Garryowen

Racing Victoria’s Off The Track (OTT) program has today been announced as the Premier Supporter for the prestigious Garryowen Equestrienne Turnout, regarded as the ‘Melbourne Cup’ of the horse showing world.

The Garryowen has been part of The Royal Melbourne Show since 1934 and has a strong affiliation with retired racehorses. The 2018 edition, which gets underway at 10am on Sunday, 30 September, will feature 23 ex-racehorses among its 40 entrants.

Conducted annually by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV) as part of the Horses in Action Program, the Garryowen is the ideal fit for the OTT program to support, given its stature in the equestrian world and the recent dominance of retired racehorses.

OTT thoroughbreds have won the past six editions of the Garryowen, which sees horses and riders judged on manners and paces, riding, saddlery, costume, conformation, soundness and general appearance.

The Garryowen sponsorship will bolster an already strong OTT presence at the Royal Melbourne Show with the Col. A.V. Pope Cup and the Off The Track Spring Fashions feature events already supported by OTT.

The Pope Cup recognises the best saddle exhibit over 15 hands that displays thoroughbred qualities such as manners, paces and performance, while the OTT Spring Fashions at The Show sees ladies parade their horses in Spring Racing Carnival attire.

RV’s Equine Welfare Coordinator, Lauren Moor, said the OTT program was delighted to sponsor the Garryowen with strong prospects of another retired racehorse taking the coveted honours this Sunday afternoon.

“We are thrilled to be the Premier Supporter of this year’s Garryowen Equestrian Turnout and with more than half the field made up of former racehorses it was the perfect fit,” Mrs Moor said.

“There are currently thousands of OTT thoroughbreds competing in a range of disciplines across the country and they are especially dominant as show horses. Their forward and fluid movement, impressive appearance and general demeanour make thoroughbreds ideal in the show ring.”

An exciting entrant in this year’s Garryowen is Bart Cummings’ former grand stayer Precedence. A veteran of four Melbourne Cup starts and a two-time Moonee Valley Cup winner in 69 racetrack appearances, Precedence is forging an exciting equestrian career for owner-rider Fiona McIntyre.

“This year marks my 15th consecutive Garryowen and I couldn’t be more excited to be partnering with Precedence. He raced at the highest level and will now compete in the most respected event on the calendar for show horses for the first time,” Mrs McIntyre said.

“The first time I rode Precedence I thought he would make the perfect Garryowen mount for me and that dream is about to become a reality. I have no doubt it will be an emotional ride for me, I am so proud of his achievements in his new life as a show horse thus far given his longevity on the track.”

Another notable OTT entrant is last year’s winner SLM Mercedes and rider Catherine Neill, who will return for a second tilt at the coveted title.

Handsome black gelding Taittinger, who won the 2016 Col. A.V. Pope Cup with rider Jess Stalling, is nominated for both classes and certain to be competitive.

Stage Presence, a one-start son of Testa Rossa and the 2017 OTT National Show Horse Championship winner, is in red-hot form coming into the competition.

OTT Acknowledged Retrainer, Katie Ramsay, and her Sharkbite gelding Inafrenzy round out an all-star line-up of horses in strong contention for the title.

RASV Chief Executive Officer, Paul Guerra, is in full support of OTT taking on the role of Premier Supporter.

“It’s wonderful to have Off The Track involved in the Horses in Action Program at the Royal Melbourne Show as the Premier Supporter of the Garryowen Equestrienne Turnout and the Col. A.V. Pope Cup,” Mr Guerra said.

“We’re looking forward to continuing our relationship with Racing Victoria’s Off The Track program at this year’s Melbourne Show.”

Keep an eye across OTT social media channels for live updates on the performances of OTT horses during this year’s Royal Melbourne Show.

Facebook: @OffTheTrackRV

Twitter: @RV_OffTheTrack

Instagram: @rv_offthetrack