Inside Racing | Capacity expansion grant helps Victorian retrainers

At the core of Racing Victoria’s post-racing initiatives is a statewide network of 50 acknowledged retrainers who play a critical role in retired racehorses transitioning to new homes following their time on the track.

To help these retrainers grow their capacity and support more retired racehorses, RV, thanks to the industry’s equine welfare fund has introduced the Retrainer Capacity Expansion Grant program.

Launched in late-2020, the program offers retrainers the opportunity to share in $200,000 to put towards an expansion project that aims to increase their capacity to take on more Off The Track horses, and help enhance the quality of the acknowledged retrainer network in Victoria.

RV Racehorse Transition Coordinator, Emily Aitkenhead said an overwhelming number of strong applications were received and they were excited to see the recipients bring their proposals to life.

“It was difficult to short list the applications but I believe the recipients’ projects will have a positive impact on creating greater opportunities for former racehorses to be re-educated for their perfect second career.

“As retrainers are so reliant on the re-sale of the horses they train or a second job to sustain their business, the introduction of the grant is an important step to safeguard and improve our retrainer network as a critical part of the thoroughbred racehorse lifecycle.

“In most cases the retrainer had already planned their project but required additional financial support to make the project a reality, which is exactly what this grant program was able to do.

“That’s why it was important that each applicant best demonstrated their ability to increase the number of off-the-track horses they could retrain and responsibly rehome within a given time frame, whilst enhancing the quality of their retraining.

“While these projects will directly benefit the retrainers business, it will also help support RV’s transition programs like RESET. Allowing more racehorses that have struggled to find a second career the opportunity to be retrained with the support of the industry’s equine welfare fund.

“Our aim is to roll out the capacity grants program annually, to allow more acknowledged retrainers to fast track or start new projects that might have otherwise been unattainable to retrain more horses,” said Aitkenhead.

The first round of grants went to seven acknowledged retrainers, with the financial support allowing a variety of resourcing and construction projects to help expand their operations.

RV Acknowledged Retrainer, Fiona McIntyre was one of the successful grant recipients.

“The new grant is a great way to support retrainers who have plans to expand their business or upgrade their facilities to retrain more horses.

“My property is reasonably new so the grant will be a big help to build new paddocks, holding yards, as well as replacing existing fencing that needs to be replaced.

“These projects will significantly increase my retraining capacity by having more safe areas to house off-the-track horses, including those that require rehabilitation.

“With the development of programs like RESET and the retrainer grant, we are really taking the steps to create greater capacity to retrain thoroughbreds in Victoria and ensure every retired racehorse has the opportunity to find its second career,” said McIntyre.

With projects ranging from the recruitment of a new staff member to assist with day to day operations, to the building of a barn, and a new undercover 18 metre round yard and tie up bays, the projects are expected to get underway in the first half of 2021.

If you’re looking for a retrainer near you to help with transitioning a horse to its second career, check out the RV website - racingvictoria.com.au/off-the-track