The city of Mount Gambier has a proud thoroughbred racing history and we are now starting to see a growth in equestrian events in the region that are bringing the two sports closer together than ever.
The Mount Gambier Junior & Young Rider Carnival is the only show jumping event in South Australia that runs solely for Juniors & Young Riders and has been a breeding ground for talent over the years.
Many of our current Australian representatives have competed at this Carnival over the years, so if history is anything to go by, make sure you put Rachel Hare in your blackbook.
Hare won the Best Performed Rider on an ‘Off the Track Thoroughbred Award’ at last year’s Mount Gambier Young Rider Carnival aboard her mount Shecky Express.
The now 19-year-old Shecky Express made it to one trial in Canberra back in 2003 where he finished in last place.
17 years later the horse is dominating in a discipline that many of our former thoroughbreds succeed in when their time in racing is up.
Hare has always had an affinity with ‘Off the Track’ thoroughbreds, starting way back when she was only two-years-old.
“I come from a very ‘horsey’ family, so I have been riding since I was put on a horse at the age of two. I learnt to ride on my dad’s old show jumper which was an ‘Off the Track’ thoroughbred.”
Last year’s Carnival saw a large number of entries with about 60 riders and over 100 horses, 30 of which were thoroughbreds which is a number that has continued to grow year on year.
Hare is a big advocate for the Off the Track Program and believes that they are perfectly suited as showjumpers.
“What I like best about riding thoroughbreds in competition is that they are extremely athletic, they always try hard and they have great enthusiasm.”
“I think it’s great to see that thoroughbreds are getting recognised for their all-round versatility. Coming from a family of four girls that have ridden many ‘Off the Track’ thoroughbreds and have had great success with them.”
Hare will be hoping that success continues this year as she steps out of the Junior ranks and into the Young Rider category where she’s hoping to find another young ‘Off the Track’ horse to get going and compete on.
Later this year, Mount Gambier will host the 2020 Easter Festival which attracts riders of all calibres.
Not only can you catch former Olympians plying their trade in the main events but you’ll see riders like Hare competing in the Junior & Young Riders Carnival which was added to the Festival a few years ago.
If you’re down in the South-East this Easter, make sure you get along to the Festival and catch events like the ‘Blue Lake Stakes’ featuring some of the nation’s best up and coming horses or the ‘City of Mount Gambier Grand Prix’ where some of the best horses in the country compete for glory.