Racing Victoria (RV) has announced the three finalists for the inaugural Acknowledged Retrainer of the Year Award, which recognises the achievements of the equine experts preparing retired racehorses for secondary careers.
Jessica Schneider, Nikki Cook and Amanda Porter are all in the running to claim the title, which will be presented on Saturday, 20 July at the Equestrian Victoria Awards, sponsored by RV’s Off The Track (OTT) program.
The winner will receive a cheque for $2,500 to assist with the development of their retraining business, while the two finalists will receive a $500 voucher courtesy of Peter Horobin Saddlery.
A panel of five judges narrowed down a competitive field of entries including Olympian Amanda Ross; media personality and talented polo player, Hamish McLachlan; Peter Horobin Saddlery Creative Director and Marketing Communications at the Australian Jumps Racing Association, Marlee Horobin; racehorse trainer Bec Waymouth; and RV’s Executive General Manager – Integrity Services, Jamie Stier.
Schneider has been an RV Acknowledged Retrainer for the past six years, having purchased a farm for the purpose of re-educating and campaigning retired racehorses. The farm regularly has more than 20 horses in work, the majority of which are Off The Track.
Cook is the owner and operator of Shory Park horses, one of Australia’s leading retraining operations. She won the Godolphin Stud and Staff Stable Award for Thoroughbred Care and Welfare in 2016, and her team retrains almost 100 Off The Track thoroughbreds each year.
Porter runs the successful Forest View Thoroughbreds, which employs a small but dedicated team of experienced staff, including volunteers wanting to learn more about Off The Track thoroughbreds. Porter prides herself on producing quality mounts suitable for a variety of disciplines.
RV’s Equine Welfare Manager, Jennifer Hughes, said the award is aimed at rewarding RV Acknowledged Retrainers for their continuing commitment to the industry.
“The RV Acknowledged Retrainer of the Year Award provides us with an opportunity to recognise the hard work and dedication that our diverse and highly skilled network of retrainers carry out with retired racehorses.
“Our retrainers play a significant role as they are tasked with re-educating retired racehorses for secondary careers as performance and pleasure horses, as well as championing them as the ideal equestrian athletes.
“They are an integral part of our Off The Track program, and their dedication and loyalty to partnering with Off The Track thoroughbreds deserves recognition, which is exactly why Racing Victoria created this award," said Hughes.
RV’s Off The Track program was created to drive demand for thoroughbreds in secondary careers and has since sponsored over 700 events in which more than 15,000 retired racehorses have competed.
Off The Track underpins RV's 2019 Equine Welfare Strategic Plan objective of developing a structure of initiatives that maximise outcomes for thoroughbreds bred for racing.