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Talent, Versatility of Off-Track Thoroughbreds on Display at Retired Racehorse Project’s ‘Mega-Makeover’Aftercare
A five-day training competition showcasing retired racehorses, the Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover concluded this weekend with 20 champions – two in each of the 10 disciplines offered at the makeover.
Nicknamed the “Mega-Makeover,” more than 500 horses from both the 2020 and 2021 Thoroughbred Makeover classes competed during three days of preliminary competition held around the Kentucky Horse Park. From there, the top five in each discipline advanced to the weekend’s finale with 2020 champions crowned on Saturday and 2021 on Sunday.
When Saturday’s competition wrapped up, Thunderous Affair was the star of the show with trainer Lindsey Partridge.
Signed up originally to compete in 2020 before the competition was postponed due to the pandemic, the 4-year-old filly competed in two disciplines with Partridge aboard. Thunderous Affair had proved a tough project early in her training for the makeover veteran, but in the end she showed that patience paid off. The filly’s new laid-back attitude shined through with victories in both Competitive Trail and Freestyle.
“She didn’t trust me in the beginning,” Partridge explained of the filly. “I really had to slow down and just go to events, and just not make it about competing. Just the fact that she was so calm and relaxed here and able to trust me to do everything — gosh, I’m going to start crying!”
While Thunderous Affair was making her only Thoroughbred Makeover appearance – retired racehorses are only eligible for the competition in their first year of retraining -– Partridge is a veteran of both classes. In fact, this is her second title in each with 2016 wins in both Freestyle and Competitive Trail. In between those victories and this year’s successes, she also scored multiple second-place finishes in both disciplines.
Partridge followed in her previous makeover footsteps in another way as well – taking home her second Thoroughbred Makeover Championship sponsored by Churchill Downs with her trainee. Voted on by the panel of judges who had judged all 10 disciplines at the finale, the winner is awarded $10,000.
“It’s all about putting that relationship first,” Partridge said of what she’s learned from the competition. “I’ve done ranch and field hunter and trail and freestyle, but it all comes back to that partnership first.”
Another horse was saluted by the public during Saturday’s finale when a text vote awarded Legend’s Hope the People’s Choice Award. Another discipline winner, the Eventing Champion was ridden by Jazz Napravnik, giving Napravnik and her sister Rosie back-to-back victories in the discipline after Rosie won with Sanimo in 2019. Legend’s Hope’s win came with a $2,500 donation to the equine-related 501(c)3 of Jazz Napravnik’s choosing.
Those who couldn’t get enough of watching former racehorses become champions in their second careers were able to tune in on Sunday to watch the 2021 class get their time in the ring.
A competition class that had been hailed throughout the week as one of the strongest seen in the Thoroughbred Makeover’s history, in the end it was Forthegreatergood who took home the $10,000 2021 Thoroughbred Makeover Championship title.
As a racehorse, Forthegreatergood had been bred, owned, and trained by Donna Lockard and it was another Donna – Donna Verrilli – who owned the gelding at the Thoroughbred Makeover.
Proving to be what the judges felt was the near-perfect Field Hunter from the start, Forthegreatergood was given the top score in each of the top three preliminary phases. He came into Sunday’s finale with an eight-point lead to give him some leeway in the final phase of the competition. But as he had done during the preliminaries, Forthegreatergood continued to prove to be the perfect professional under his trainer, Laura Sloan, to take home the Field Hunters championship and the overall Thoroughbred Makeover Championship.
For Sloan, it was a special victory because of the story behind the horse. Forthegreatergood had come into her barn when Verrilli had decided to honor her husband, Ricard Verrilli, who died in December 2020, by producing a horse for the Thoroughbred Makeover. A Master of Foxhounds himself, Verrilli was Sloan’s employer to take the idea full circle.
“The Thoroughbred is just such a great breed,” Sloan said of the horses at the competition. “It’s amazing how you can have 10 of these horses in the same race, and they can go into 10 different disciplines. The versatility of this breed — they could have all raced together, and then one’s a barrel racer, and one’s a fox hunter, and one’s a dressage horse. It’s pretty cool.”
As on Saturday, the Thoroughbred Makeover Champion was chosen by the judges and the public also had a chance to choose their favorite.
The vote saw Show Hunter Champion Icarius crowned the People’s Choice Award sponsored by Achieve Equine winner. Ridden by Alexandra Beckstett, Icarius had come into the Show Hunter discipline tied for first. By the time the top five had finished their rounds, Icarius left the ring nearly 15 points ahead of the rest of the field. Just like the day before, Beckstett was able to choose a charity for RRP to donate $2,500 to thanks to her win.
To learn more about the Makeover and this year’s competition, visit www.tbmakeover.org.
2020 Thoroughbred Makeover Discipline Champions
Eventing, sponsored by Tipperary Equestrian: Legend’s Hope, trained by Jazz Napravnik
Show Jumper, sponsored by Excel Equine: Canton Comet, trained by Samantha Fawcett
Show Hunter, sponsored by Beyond the Wire: Still Dreaming, trained by Charles Hairfield
Field Hunter, sponsored by Masters of Foxhounds Association: Zapper, trained by Cameron Sadler
Dressage, sponsored by PTHA’s Turning For Home: Elbow Room, trained by Helen Pianca
Polo, sponsored by United States Polo Association: That’s My Bertie, trained by Willowbrook Polo Team
Freestyle, sponsored by New Start: Thunderous Affair, trained by Lindsey Partridge
Barrel Racing, sponsored by SmartPak: Czraina Maria, trained by Jessica Frederick
Competitive Trail, sponsored by Godolphin: Thunderous Affair, trained by Lindsey Partridge
Ranch Work, sponsored by MidAtlantic Horse Rescue: Aussie Prayer, trained by Raechel Ramsey
2021 Thoroughbred Makeover Discipline Champions
Eventing, sponsored by Tipperary Equestrian: Fleet Stepper, trained by Hillary Irwin
Show Jumper, sponsored by Excel Equine: Raise Em Up, trained by Kristina Aaron
Show Hunter, sponsored by Beyond the Wire: Icarius, trained by Alexandra Beckstett
Field Hunter, sponsored by Masters of Foxhounds Association: Forthegreatergood, trained by Laura Sloan
Dressage, sponsored by PTHA’s Turning For Home: Kubo Cat, trained by Alison O’Dwyer
Polo, sponsored by United States Polo Association: Ramses, trained by Benjamin Lynch
Freestyle, sponsored by New Start: Papa Al, trained by Jody Busch
Barrel Racing, sponsored by SmartPak: Tip Top Diva, trained by Dakotah Rowel
Competitive Trail, sponsored by Godolphin: Super Terrific, trained by Abbey Blair
Ranch Work, sponsored by MidAtlantic Horse Rescue: War Candy, trained by Muri Triantafilo