SECOND careers for some 13,000 Australian-foaled thoroughbreds each year is an important topic Down Under and the Sydney thoroughbred classes were an impressive sight, well filled with picture-perfect entries.

Around one-third of the 40 horses in Courtney Larard and Matthew Birch’s yard are thoroughbreds. “We manage a training, campaigning and sales type yard and the thoroughbreds are mostly second career horses. We’ve a horse that’s with us as part of the Godolphin Lifetime Care programme. It’s Somewhat was bred in the USA, raced in the UK won just under £3.6 million and now he’s with us. He’s been very much around the world!” Courtney said.

“Their idea was to put him in training with us and to show they’re invested in their horses and their lives after racing. He competed in the led classes last year. Sydney is the pinnacle here for shows.”

The busy couple had 14 horses entered for the anniversary show. “Nine came with us and the others met us here. It’s a team effort,” added Matt.

Had the recent New South Wales floods and the pandemic affected their business? “In our part of the Hunter Valley, 30 minutes north of Newcastle, we’re quite fortunate because we’re up on a hill so we’ve minimally impacted by the floods. It’s just been muddy. Covid and the wet weather cancelled some competitions but most of them went ahead,” he said.

“We’ve been busy, everyone still wants their horses worked and trained.

Does it take long to retrain the ex-racehorses? “Ideally you can start with the basics and skim through and fill in whatever gaps are missing,” he replied.

“There are some fantastic breakers out there who break them in, I guess thinking of a life after racing. They do teach their horses some fantastic qualities so when they make it to someone like us, those horses can hit the ground running.”