Equestrian Life
Introducing the top 5 Racing Victoria Acknowledged Retrainer of the Year finalists

Amanda Porter

Amanda Porter.


Introducing the top 5 Racing Victoria Acknowledged Retrainer of the Year finalists

By Equestrian Life

The top five finalists have been announced for the 2020 Racing Victoria Acknowledged Retrainer of the Year award!

The award forms part of the 2020 Equestrian Victoria Awards, and gives Victorian retrainers the opportunity to be recognised for their efforts with retired racehorses. Nominations were open to Victorian-based Acknowledged Retrainers who have been registered and active for a minimum of 6 months.

The five finalists were selected based on the achievements of their OTT retrained horses during the period 1 July 2019 to 1 June 2020 (competitive or non-competitive), as well as the candidate’s active promotion of the OTT program and their contribution to increasing participation of riders taking on OTT horses.

Narrowed down from 20 nominations and 64 submissions, the top five finalists are as follows:

Amanda Porter

Based in Garfield North, Forest View Thoroughbreds Off The Track Education and Rehoming was developed many years ago after Amanda Porter saw a gap in the market around the area of retired racehorses. After working in the racing and breeding industry for many years as a track rider, groom, pre-trainer, assistant breaker and strapper, Amanda realised more could be done for the racehorses after they retired from racing. She runs a mainly self-funded re-homing and re-education establishment and also cares and nurtures new and nervous riders both adult and younger.
Amanda is a Racing Victoria Acknowledged Retrainer and was the 2019 runner up for this award. She is also part of Racing Victoria’s new RESET Program, which is a new pathway for Victorian thoroughbreds that have struggled to find the right home following their retirement from racing. Amanda began with Chatsfield, who was successfully rehomed recently to Racing Hearts Equine Therapy, and she is now currently working with the lovely chestnut Brightlight Boy.

Facebook: @forestviewthoroughbreds
Instagram: @forestviewthorougbreds


Fiona McIntyre

Fiona McIntyre.

Fiona McIntyre
Fiona has long been flying the flag for OTT horses. A passionate advocate for the thoroughbred and their post-racing careers, she believes the possibilities with this breed are endless given the opportunity, time, and correct training/retraining. She says every racehorse can have a purpose after they have retired from the track; it’s just a matter of finding the right fit for each individual horse and matching them correctly to "their person" to provide the best possible opportunity to excel — whether that be as a competition horse or simply a pleasure horse.

Fiona, who was named the 2020 Wakeful Lady of Racing Award winner, is well known for her partnership with four-time Melbourne Cup runner Precedence, who has enjoyed a successful post-racing career as a show horse. Early this year, Fiona entered both Precedence and the quirky Caravan Rolls On in the virtual edition of the Royal Windsor Horse Show. Precedence won the Retraining of Racehorses In-Hand class, while Caravan placed fourth in the Retraining of Racehorses Ridden class — a brilliant effort for two Aussie off the track horses on the international stage!

You can read more about Fiona’s success at the virtual edition of Royal Windsor here.

Now part of the RESET Program as well, Fiona is looking forward to soon welcoming her first horse!

Facebook: @Precedence
Instagram: @fimcintyre


Jade Willis

Jade Willis.

Jade Willis

Jade has always had horses in her life but her love for thoroughbreds started in 2002 while still living in New Zealand. Jade left school to start working for trainer Dave Enright initially part time, but it soon become apparent to Dave that Jade had an excellent work ethic and natural feel for handling racehorses, so Jade commenced full time work with him, and stayed for eight years until she moved to Australia in 2010.

After purchasing a property at Barnawartha in Northern Victoria, Jade soon had a steady flow of OTTs looking to find new homes and commence their post racing careers.

Now running JW Equestrian, Jade is an inspiring riding instructor, a passionate rider and dedicated thoroughbred retrainer and re-homer. She has always been drawn to thoroughbreds due to their willingness, toughness, trainability and temperament.

Jade is also part of the RESET Program and currently has Rockawinn in her care.

Facebook: @jadewillisequestrian
Instagram: @jadewillisequestrian


Lisa Coffey

Lisa Robertson-Smith (nee Coffey).

Lisa Robertson-Smith (nee Coffey)
Lisa has worked with retired racehorses for over 20 years, in Ireland and Australia. Her experience as a rider in the racing industries, equestrian disciplines and Pony Club has given Lisa first hand knowledge of retraining retired racehorses, and to foster safe and rewarding partnerships with their riders.

Lisa runs Racing Hearts Equine Assisted Therapy which offers the community therapeutic programs, working exclusively with retired racehorses on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. She is also part of the RESET Program and recently welcomed RESET horse Chatsfield to her therapy team!

Facebook: @racingheartsaus
Instagram: @racing_hearts_therapy
Twitter: @racinghearts1


Nikki Cook

Nikki Cook.

Nikki Cook

Nikki is the owner, founder and head trainer of Shory Park, one of the largest retraining facilities in the country. Over the past year, Nikki and her team have successfully retrained over 200 Off The Track thoroughbreds.

Shory Park continues to grow each year on a beautiful 85-acre property just south of Geelong where horses can truly spell and enjoy life as a horse before commencing their retraining. Shory Park has a small, local feel when visiting the property, with a very personal approach to every person interested in buying an off the track thoroughbred.

Nikki has a highly professional approach to retraining and selling off the track thoroughbreds. She is honest, reliable and has a huge focus on matching horses to their most suitable discipline and rider.

Nikki is the 2019 Racing Victoria Acknowledged Retrainer of the Year winner, as well as Godolphin 2016 Winner for Thoroughbred Care & Welfare.

You can read more about Nikki Cook via our feature article here.

Facebook: @Shoryparkhorses
Instagram: @shoryparkhorses

This year, the prize pool has increased for the 2020 Racing Victoria Acknowledged Retrainer of the Year award, with the winner taking home $3,000, as well as $1,000 to the runner up and $500 to the second runner up. These cash prizes will assist in the continuing development of OTT work.

The overall winner will be decided via a panel of five highly esteemed judges: Dr Andrew McLean, the CEO of Equitation Science International; Charlotte Littlefield, a Licensed Victorian Trainer; Jacqui Felgate, a News & Sport Presenter for Channel 7; Jamie Stier, the Executive General Manager – Integrity Services at Racing Victoria; and Jan Smith, and well known and loved Equestrian Industry Representative.

Due to Covid-19, the award ceremony will be a little different this year and take place in the form of a virtual celebration over several days in October — we look forward to hearing which of these amazing finalists will take out the top honour!

This article was written in conjunction with Racing Victoria.






© copyright. Equestrian Life. Tuesday, 1 December 2020