Not every thoroughbred, no matter how illustrious its bloodlines, is destined to become a top-class racehorse. Through injury or lack of ability, some might never make it to the racecourse at all. But thoroughbreds, as they have proved time and time again, are versatile creatures and can excel in other disciplines, such as eventing, polo or in the hunting field. Some can even just make the perfect hack or riding horse for riders of a decent standard who have had some experience with this exceptional breed.
The Darley Thoroughbred Rehoming Programme operates from Badlingham Manor on the outskirts of Newmarket. We rehome geldings only, some of whom have raced and have perhaps had their careers curtailed by injury, and others who have simply not made the grade. Among those to have successfully found new homes in the early stages of the programme are: Group One winner Summoner, who is now hunting with the Eggesford Hunt in Devon; Franchise, from the sole crop of the great Dubai Millennium; and Grand Bahama, a Listed-winning half-brother to star stayer Persian Punch.
“It’s not just horses that have served Sheikh Mohammed on a racecourse but also those that have been bred to do the job but are not, for various reasons, racing prospects,” says Sophie Candy, who set up the programme with advice from Di Arbuthnot of Retraining of Racehorses and Carrie Humble of the Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Centre.
At Badlingham, horses coming straight from training centres are generally given six months turnout as a winding-down period, which could be longer in the case of those recovering from minor injuries. The excellent team of staff at Badlingham, which is headed by Jo Brisland, will then start their retraining programme, ensuring each horse is suitably schooled before being rehomed.
The horses are rehomed on a three-month trial basis, at the end of which they are visited in their new surroundings.
“We make sure the horse is happy and healthy and we will always have them back at any stage if there’s a problem or if people’s circumstances change,” says Sophie.
“We encourage people to let us know straight away if they have any difficulties and we’ll try to help and advise them. The more feedback we have, hopefully the more successful the project will be for both sides.”
At the end of a successful trial period, the horse can be purchased for a flat fee of £100 under the terms of the Weatherbys non-racing agreement. For more details on the scheme, please see www.darleyrehoming.co.uk.