Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) released today a list of 480 trainers from 45 states, three Canadian Provinces and England who will acquire and train a recently retired racehorse for the $100,000 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, scheduled for October 27-30 at the Kentucky Horse Park.
All ten of the discipline winners from last year’s Makeover will return to defend their titles, along with seventy-three other Makeover alumni on brand new horses. The remaining group of nearly 400 is doing this for the first time.
This may be the most diverse group of accomplished horse trainers ever to gather in one place.
Among the entries is a large contingent of professionals from the top ranks of their respective sports.
It includes 15 event riders who have competed at the advanced level, four grand prix dressage riders, and four grand prix show jumpers. The field hunter division features two past winners of the North American Field Hunter Championships, and among show hunters are ten who have trained winners at the country’s top A-circuit shows.
The strong contingent of barrel racers will be eager to see what 20-time World Champion Lance Graves can do on a Thoroughbred, and the working ranch division mixes lifelong ranch hands with a half-dozen show and rodeo veterans wearing World Champion belt buckles.
At least six of the polo trainers make their livings training and selling to the world’s top players, and the Competitive Trails division is an eclectic mix of endurance riders, Extreme Cowboy Race veterans, and all manner of trail and obstacle class winners.
And then there is the crowd-favorite freestyle division. It features 14 Mustang Makeover alumni, Road to the Horse trainers, a National Cavalry Champion in mounted pistols and saber, an AQHA World Champion driver, and the entertainment director of Arabian Nights Theater.
“Reading through the applications of these 480 trainers was like opening Christmas presents,” said RRP President Steuart Pittman. “Off-track Thoroughbreds dominated the horse show world in this country when they were in the barns of our very best riders and trainers. We believe that a key to restoring demand for these horses is matching some of them with the best trainers. Doing so not only increases their chances of winning, but it inspires those trainers’ clients and fans.
“With the carrot of $100,000 in prize money, lots of promotion, and a buzz among the horse industry too loud to ignore, we have done what we set out to do. We have recruited trainers who are looked up to in their sports, many of whom have barns full of Warmbloods and Quarter Horses. Many grew up on Thoroughbreds and feel like this is coming home. Others are trying something completely new.”
Lindsey Partridge won Competitive Trails and the overall title of America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred last year with her grey mare Soar. When asked how she felt about the flood of top trainers coming to challenge her title she said without hesitation, “I think it’s fantastic! It means more Thoroughbreds are going to be re-homed and showcased to their full potential.”
That is the spirit that makes this competition unique. It truly is about the horses, and that shared commitment is felt throughout the barns and all the arenas. It is an even playing field for amateurs, pros, and even juniors, and money can’t buy success.
But with $100,000 and major bragging rights on the line, the Makeover does push trainers to do their very best work. Lindsey’s closing remark was, “I will be upping my game this year.”