2022 RV Acknowledged Retrainer of the Year award winner, Jade Willis

Finalists announced for Retrainer of the Year Awards

Racing Victoria (RV) has today announced the finalists for the 2023 RV Acknowledged Retrainer of the Year and Emerging Retrainer of the Year awards which recognise excellence in the retraining and rehoming of retired racehorses in Victoria.

For the first time, the winners of both awards will be presented at the Victorian Racing Awards held this Saturday night, 12 August 2023, to further acknowledge the commitment of equine experts in preparing thoroughbreds 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 finalists selected for the outstanding work they do in retraining retired racehorses and promoting RV’s Off The Track (OTT) program.

The finalists for the 2023 RV Acknowledged Retrainer of the Year award include:

  • Louise Abey – director of Abey Performance Horses, which specialises in retraining thoroughbreds for suitable pursuits post-racing, Lou and her team take over 60 Off The Track thoroughbreds annually who go on to find new homes all over Australia;
  • Lisa Coffey – brings her background in track riding, horse husbandry and a degree in psychology together to re-educate retired racehorses through her Racing Hearts program which offers equine assisted therapy;
  • Fiona McIntyre - a dedicated and passionate individual who specialises in the retraining and rehabilitation of Off The Track thoroughbreds, providing them with a second chance at a fulfilling life beyond the racetrack; and 
  • Jade Willis – has been working in the equine industry for 17 years and is dedicated to providing a high standard of quality care to the Off The Track thoroughbreds that come into her care.

A panel of esteemed judges, including RV Board Director, Tim Eddy; Equestrian Australia (EA) Accredited Coach and Judge, Sue Chandler; Olympian, EA Accredited Coach and OTT Ambassador, Amanda Ross; Seven Network Horse Racing Producer, Emily Schulz and Trainer, Amy Yargi determined the finalists and the overall winner.

The 2023 Acknowledged Retrainer of the Year will be awarded $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 thoroughbreds.

This year the Emerging Retrainer of the Year will be presented for the second time, acknowledging retrainers who have been registered as an RV Acknowledged Retrainer for three years or less, with the winner receiving $1,000 to go towards their rehoming efforts.

The finalists for the 2023 RV Emerging Retrainer of the Year award include:

  • Emma Campbell – has been involved in racing long before becoming a RV Acknowledged Retrainer and is extremely passionate about giving each and every horse the best future post-racing;
  • Jessica Cocks - has been riding and educating horses for the past 25 years and has retrained Off The Track thoroughbreds to 3* level in eventing; and
  • Sophie Fox – a 4* eventer who has been riding thoroughbreds for several years due to her passion for eventing and interest in the thoroughbred as a top breed for eventing.

Both awards recognise the outstanding dedication and achievements of RV Acknowledged Retrainers and reward their continuous devotion to the retraining and rehoming of retired racehorses along with promotion of RV’s OTT program.

Attributable Quotes:

RV General Manager, Equine Welfare – Melissa Ware:

“The Acknowledged Retrainer awards are a great opportunity to celebrate and recognise the terrific work of our network of retrainers across Victoria.

“First introduced in 2019, we are pleased to see a record number of nominations for this year’s awards resulting in a talented list of finalists.

“It’s also great that this year’s awards will be presented as part of the Victorian Racing Awards, creating additional recognition and awareness of the outstanding dedication of our Acknowledged Retrainer network.

“I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank each and every one of them for their ongoing commitment and devotion to Off The Track thoroughbreds.”