Finalists announced for Acknowledged Retrainer of the Year Award

Racing Victoria (RV) in partnership with Equestrian Victoria (EV) has today announced the five finalists for its Off The Track Acknowledged Retrainer of the Year Award, which recognises the achievements and commitment of the equine experts in Victoria preparing retired racehorses for secondary careers.

From a network of more than 50 RV Acknowledged Retrainers across Victoria, an extensive list of nominations was submitted to RV, with the five finalists selected for the outstanding work they do in retraining and rehoming ex-racehorses, enabling thoroughbreds to find secondary careers away from the track.

The five finalists for the 2021 Off The Track Retrainer of the Year Award include;

  • Fiona McIntyre: a successful show competitor with two-time Moonee Valley Gold Cup winner Precedence and current Retrainer of the Year;
  • Jade Willis: a winner in the 2021 Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff awards for her tireless work with off-the-track thoroughbreds;
  • Jodee Young: among her great work rehoming off-the-track horses, retrained an ex-racehorse with RSPCA Victoria for the Riding for the Disabled Association of Victoria (RDAV) through RV’s RESET Program;
  • Lisa Coffey: retrains and rehomes racehorses for equine assisted therapy programs via Racing Hearts including Chatsfield through RV’s RESET Program; and
  • Louise Abey: the driving force at Abey Performance Horses with a mission to give as many horses as possible a second chance.

A panel of five esteemed judges, including Dr Andrew McLean (CEO of Equitation Science International), Catherine Murphy (ABC Sports Journalist), Fiona Selby (Managing Director, Boneo Park Equestrian), Robbie Griffiths (Trainer) and Carly Dixon (RV Executive General Manager, Corporate Affairs) will be tasked with selecting a winner and runner-up from the shortlist of five finalists.

Both the Retrainer of the Year and runner-up will be announced on Saturday, 31 July at the annual EV Awards, sponsored by RV’s Off The Track Program.

The Retrainer of the Year will receive a cheque for $5,000 to assist with the continuing development of their retraining and rehoming work, and the runner-up will receive $1,000 to go towards their work with off-the-track horses.

From competing off-the-track thoroughbreds on a global scale to using ex-racehorses in equine assisted therapy programs, this year’s notable finalists have successfully transitioned retired racehorses into a number of different fields and careers.

An active member of the Off The Track community, McIntyre was named the 2020 Lady of Racing for her unwavering passion for providing opportunities to horses exiting the racing industry, ensuring that they are given every opportunity to excel post-racing and lead meaningful lives. 

McIntyre’s success competing off-the-track horses continued in 2020 in the Virtual Royal Windsor Horse Show, claiming top honours in the Retraining of Racehorses In-Hand class with four-time Melbourne Cup runner Precedence, ahead of hundreds of entries from across the world. Another of McIntyre’s off-the-track horses, Caravan Rolls On, also tasted success in the Retraining of Racehorses Ridden class, finishing fourth in the global online event.

An inspiring instructor, passionate rider and dedicated thoroughbred re-homer, Willis has rehomed over 240 thoroughbreds in the past two years.

After moving to Australia from New Zealand in 2016, Willis has helped find new lives for ex-gallopers in a myriad of disciplines, with her horses going on to compete at high levels in polo, eventing and show jumping, as well as becoming vital team members at trail riding and riding schools across the country.

Willis has attended clinics with international riders such as Lucinda Green and Andrew Hoy, learned about biomechanics and injury prevention at veterinary-run seminars and consulted with equine feed specialists to tailor specific diets for individual horses. 

Boasting an impressive resume, Young served as stable foreman for jumps racing royalty Jim and Mark Houlahan, before becoming a successful trainer in her own right.

More recently, Young through RV’s RESET Program (which provides additional support and pathways for horses that have struggled to transition to a second career outside of racing) rehomed a mare that had been surrendered to RSPCA Victoria but is now an active member of the RDAV riding program.

Coffey is the founder and director of Racing Hearts, an organisation dedicated to offering retired racehorses a new lease on life through retraining and integration to equine assisted therapy programs for humans.

As well as offering therapeutic riding sessions for people with intellectual and physical disabilities, Coffey is also dedicated to retraining and rehoming horses to go on to be active members in the community, including family riding horses, RDAV mounts or competition horses. 

Coffey is also a trainer for the Equine Psychotherapy Institute, helping mental health professionals learn how to incorporate horses into their therapy sessions. 

With a passion for providing care, patience and training to thoroughbreds, ensuring they have the best chance of a successful outcome post-racing, Abey manages Abey Performance Horses, specialising in retraining thoroughbreds for performance sports as well as offering services to assist in the transition to life after racing. 

Abey has also been heavily involved in RV’s RESET Program and recently retrained two ex-racehorses who, after being out of work for several years, went on to be extremely sought-after following their retraining, with over 80 enquiries received for each of them, before they went on to find homes in New South Wales and Tasmania.

Abey is also a committee member for a new Off The Track Equestrian Club, aimed at providing a supportive network and encouraging more riders to become involved with off-the-track horses.

The Off The Track Horse of the Year will also be presented at the annual EV Awards on 31 July, in four different categories, including dressage, show jumping, eventing and showing, with the finalists as follows:


Horse Name
(Racing Name)




Another Option
(King Zetoire)

Lucy Kolomanski

Lucy Kolomanski

Coromandel Bay
(Ha Kul)

Vanda Morgan

Vanda Morgan

Stage Presence

Rebecca Farrow

Rebecca Farrow




Mr Pig
(Winnie's Horse)

Sophie Fox

Sophie Fox

Regal Red Jasper
(Lion Cavern x Vision of Fame 2003)

Kirilee Hosier

Kirilee Hosier

Shake My Hand
(Sheik Moh Hand)

Airlia Munn

Airlia Munn


(Poker Brat)

Rachael Gane

Rachael Gane

Saddle Up Smudge
(Praire Sky)

Adam Prime

Adam Prime

Secret Mojo
(Secret Mojo)

Murray Lamperd

Raenor Priest

Show Horse



JD Kiamichi

Mark Kenzig

John De Marco

Stage Presence

Rebecca Farrow

Rebecca Farrow

St Andrews

Natalie McKay

Natalie McKay

Attributable Quotes:

RV General Manager, Equine Welfare - Jen Hughes:

“With an increased focus on the post-racing wellbeing of thoroughbreds this year, the work of our passionate and skilled retrainers is more vital than ever.

“We were extremely impressed with the nominees this year, making the selection of only five finalists very challenging, and wish each of the finalists the best of luck at the EV Awards on 31 July.

“The 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 in our broader equine welfare strategy as they are tasked with re-educating retired racehorses for secondary careers, as well as championing them as the ideal equestrian athletes.

“Thanks to our retrainers we have seen more off-the-track horses than ever go on to have successful second careers, and I would personally like to thank each of our retrainers for their tireless work in rehoming and re-educating horses from all different walks of life.”

Equestrian Victoria CEO - Matthew Brown:

“We are thrilled to once again partner with RV’s Off The Track Program for our annual awards night.

“The EV Awards recognise outstanding contributions and achievements within Victorian equestrian sport.

“It is the time of the year where everyone in the sport, no matter what age, disciplines or role, can come together to celebrate the achievements of the year and our passion for the horse.

“To see the increase in off-the-track participation, both human and equine, is fantastic and a testament to the work of RV and the Acknowledged Retrainers in championing the breed in all disciplines.”


The Off The Track Program, established in 2012, aims to facilitate the placement of retired thoroughbred racehorses in second careers by promoting a network of RV Acknowledged Retrainers, driving demand for the breed as performance and pleasure horses and educating the community about the various life after racing options, versatility of use and appropriate care and retraining of the thoroughbred.

RV Acknowledged Retrainers are tasked with re-educating retired racehorses and are available to assist racing trainers and owners with the placement of their retired racehorses into a second career.


RV’s Off The Track Retrainer of Year Award was first introduced in 2019 and recognises the great work of our network of over 50 Acknowledged Retrainers who collectively on average rehome more than 500 retired racehorses each year, working to 100 per cent of their capacity – making a vital contribution to the ongoing success of RV’s post-racing pathway initiatives such as the RESET Program.

Previous Off The Track Retrainer of the Year Award recipients:

2020: Fiona McIntyre
2019: Nikki Cook