A former star of the point-to-point scene, Lough Inch, is looking to continue his winning ways in a new discipline at the Retraining of Racehorses (ROR) National Championships.
This annual equine showpiece takes place at the Aintree International Equestrian Centre between August 21 and 26, and the 2018 event will be the fourth edition of an event which showcases the versatility of former racehorses. Lough Inch (pictured above) will carry the flag for British pointers, having won Britain's Connolly's RED MILLS Champion Horse award during the 2016/17 season, when he won eight races.
The Lizzie Harris-owned 11-year-old had a stellar pointing career, winning 19 times from 25 starts during six seasons in the sport. Harris is hopeful her charge will adapt to the new challenge and said: "I've already won a side-saddle Flat race on Lough Inch at Wincanton two years ago, and he's such a gentleman to ride I was always confident he would eventually cope with the change of pace [in the showing ring] He's had one show already and finished third – he went well, but just wouldn't stand still in the ring. He needs to learn to chill!"
Harris acquired Lough Inch from Jonjo O'Neill in 2012 after seven unsuccessful runs under Rules, and not even the great jockey AP McCoy could convince him to run any faster. It was decided Lough Inch would benefit from moving away from a big yard and so the switch was made.
Harris said: "We didn't initially think of going pointing with him, but my partner Tommy [Morgan, a farrier and trainer of pointers] thought it was worth a shot and we never looked back. Tommy placed him very well, and given good ground and an easy three miles he was very tough to beat."
Time was called on the pointing career of Lough Inch after one run earlier this year at Tabley – when he finished third in a mixed open race – but that meant Harris could have some fun with her horse by going team-chasing, hunting and showing. Harris said: "He's doing great [in his new career] as he's only been out of racing a few months. We'll continue with him as long as he's enjoying it, and hopefully we'll pick up a prize or too along the way."
Harris is no stranger to re-invigorating ex-Jonjo O'Neill inmates, having transformed Wild West (pictured centre below with Harris on-board) from Rules disappointment to ROR Supreme Champion in 2017. Harris said: "He was bred to be a champion, being closely related to [top racehorses] Rhinestone Cowboy and Wichita Lineman, just not in this discipline! He's heading off to Aintree too, and will hopefully perform well once again."
Harris continued: "I think the ROR should be commended for the work they do, and the popularity of these events demonstrates the versatility of ex-racehorses. Yes, thoroughbreds love to race, but generally they know when to behave. Even my young daughter will sit on my thoroughbreds."
Over the course of the six-day event there will be more than 200 horses taking part, many of those ex-pointers.
Daintydavey had a disappointing start to his pointing career, taking a dislike to the eighth fence at Charing in 2013 (pictured below) and parting company with rider Rachel Dorrell. Fortunately, the combination has moved on from that disagreement and have performed well in ROR events since then. Fox Point, Road To Kilkenny and Up To Scratch are all British point winners and are also due to compete at Aintree.
In total there are 90 classes, with more than £6,000 on offer in prize money, and admission is free to the public across all six days.