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Racing NSW Establishment For Retired Racehorses

(appeared in the Manning River Times)

By Doug Ryan

A retired racehorse heaven has been established at Taree by Racing NSW purchasing a property worth about $1.5 million.

The deal was finalised last month to buy the former horse stud property of Taree trainer Steve Fell, who stood Danehill stallion Home On The Grange which was successful in producing Taree Gold Cup 2011 winner, Island Dane, still racing Get On The Grange, Epic Dan and A Lot Like Home.

Holly Harrison with Delectation, formerly trained in Sydney by premier trainer Chris Waller and the winner of $1.6m in prizemoney

Similar operations exist under Racing NSW control in other areas such as Princess Farm and they are designed to have former racehorses spelled, rehabilitated into being conducive to be adopted by the public and have a 'family' retirement home.

In charge is former jockey, tutor of apprentice jockeys and racehorse owner Mal Fitzgerald, who is enthusiastic about what the property offers for the horses he loves.

The home has already been stocked with 52 former gallopers and people wanting a horse to nurture or be involved in showing or for dressage can take their pick.

One of them under adoption consideration at the present is seven-year-old gelding Delectation, formerly trained in Sydney by premier trainer Chris Waller.

Its career ended due to injury but the gelding of 24 starts and prizemoney nearing $1.6m is sound and is to be looked after by clients for the rest of its life.

Delectation won races at Warwick Farm, Randwick, Rosehill and at Flemington where he beat the famous grey Chautauqua in the $1m Darley Classic.

“We take the grain out of the ex-racehorses and settle them down,” Fitzgerald said. “We re-train them to be not flighty ... to settle down and enjoy life away from the track.

“They are very intelligent animals and we allow them to again have soft mouths while we work out their skills.

“Some may be suited to be hacks, trail horses, for dressage, jumping or just be home friends.

“All the trainers and owners are aware of our farms and take advantage of giving ex-racehorses a life in retirement.

“We work with the likes of Riding With The Disabled at Forster and can take suitable horses to them to find if they can be used without incident.

“We attend to any problems the racehorses may have, train them for suitable tasks and sell them on for free to $5000, depending what cost is incurred,” he said.

As soon as one of the 52 finds a new home, another horse replaces them. Like many local properties, rain is needed to regenerate the grass and fill the many dams on site.

Fitzgerald said it was envisaged that pony club championships could be run on the property and some courses for budding riders be staged.

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