How exactly do you pick out an OTTB for your next sporthorse?
Helpful quotes like this, in racing journals, might be a nice source:
“He’s a lovely athletic, big horse, he’s 16.3hh, but he can get about, you should see him in the sand roll, gee he can move around for a big horse.”
That’s how trainer Gerald Ryan described his new charge, Xlerate, to Thoroughbred News when the then-five year old gelding came to Australia from Hong Kong, where he had won several races and placed fourth in the Hong Kong Challenge Cup.
The judges at Barastoc Horse of The Year Show certainly agreed yesterday, when they awarded Xlerate, now twelve, with both Newcomer Horse of the Year and Open Horse of the Year, an unprecedented achievement in the 44 years of the Barastoc Horse of the Year show.
I received this e-mail this morning from a Retired Racehorse reader in Australia:
“The Zabeel gelding Xlerate is a classic example of racehorse turned to show horse.
Xlerate was purchased by Gary Moore Racing at the 2001 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Sale for $650,000 from the Cambridge Stud draft and raced in Hong Kong with success, for John Moore.
He won four races from 1800m to 2200m and placed on a further four occasions from his 15 starts and he last raced there on February 11, 2004 finishing fourth, in the Hong Kong Challenge Cup before returning to Australia to be trained by Gerald Ryan in Sydney.
He finished his racing career with six wins from 36 starts and several placings and $653,000 in prize money.
After racing, Xlerate was successfully evented to pre-novice before being advertised for sale in mid-2011, and quickly showed a liking for a career as a show horse.
At Barastoc Horse of the Year show last week he proved very much to the taste of the English judges who gave him the new horse title the open horse title and the international challenge trophy
Some prize for a 12 year old ex race horse /eventer.”
Some prize, indeed!
There is a beautiful video here of the close of the finalists for Horse of the Year. These horses are turned out wonderfully, and every single one of them certainly looks the part. But Xlerate really does stand out. After the prize-giving, at about 3:28 in the video, there is an interview with the rider and owner team who bought Xlerate and turned this versatile, big-moving horse from an eventer to a showhorse.
You might also like this 2011 sales video of Xlerate. It’s eleven minutes of him trotting, cantering, and doing leg-yields in a busy covered arena, to the gentle sounds of Angus and Julia Stone’s “Big Jet Plane.” I fast-forwarded after three minutes, and he never jumps a single fence. And “Big Jet Plane” just keeps playing. But it’s a nice song. And it’s interesting to see that while he looks calm and collected in the busy arena, he also looks a little contained. His Horse of the Year performance was big and flashy… someone likes being outside!
It’s so exciting to see OTTBs that had big, full careers as racehorses and then successfully transform not once, but twice, into new careers. From racehorse to event horse, from event horse to showhorse, and as showhorse, Horse of the Year! Well done, Xlerate!