Showjumping duo working hard to change the perception of ex-racehorses
When Newmarket’s Jessica Welch took ‘Simon’ home in December 2018, she described him as a tall, lanky thoroughbred who had spent nearly 12 months in the field.
Named The Iron Factor, the Roberto Favarulo-owned horse – trained by Phil McEntee on Hamilton Road – ran in the last of his three outings in August 2017, finishing sixth of eight in a Maiden Stakes race at Chelmsford.
However, since coming under Welch’s care the pair have embarked on a journey into the world of showjumping, and it has proven to be a masterstroke.
Neither Welch nor the horse had any previous experience, but with the invaluable guidance of Mia Palles-Clark at Palace House, the pair have gone from strength to strength, culminating in a fourth-placed finish at the recent ROR National Club Championship Class at the BS National Championships.
And what excites the 27-year-old rider the most is that there remains plenty more improvement for them both to make.
“I have pretty much always been a racing girl,” said Welch, who has previously worked for Sir Michael Stoute. “But I was offered this young horse with the option to go pretty much anywhere and after somebody recommended that I go to see Mia, the rest is history really.
“Mia is fantastic – she has had to teach both of us and we are learning together, which is amazing. He was a blank canvas but has turned out to be a horse with real potential.
“He did not put a foot out of place in the National Championships against some of the best in the country and I could not have been more proud.
“Now I want to take him as far as he can go. We have a very good coach and the sky is very much the limit.
“The potential is unlimited and Mia will get it out of both of us. She knows how to push us and when to push.
“Ex-racehorses do not always get the best press but they can honestly do whatever you want them to with the right guidance.
“I just want to show how versatile they can be, how trainable they are and how they can exceed all expectations and become something very special.”
The next target for Welch and ‘Simon’ is to try to secure themselves qualification for the upcoming British Showjumping Dodson & Horrell National Amateur Championships, which take place in November.
It is an event that provides amateur riders and horses with the opportunity to contest an end-of-year Amateur Final across four different heights – 0.85cm, 0.95cm, 1.05m and 1.10m.
“I would love for him to qualify for the 95 in time for November,” she added.
“He has had a bit of a break after the Nationals to freshen him up but we will have him back out within the next couple of weeks.
“With everything he has achieved so far in such a short space of time he is fully capable of competing in the Amateur Championships.”
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More by this authorLiam Apicella