Few will know that Joe was given the great honour of being a guest judge at the Sydney Royal Easter Show on Good Friday this Easter long weekend. The six classes overseen by Joe for the day culminated in the prestigious F L Crane Cup for Mares and The Col A V Pope Best Gelding Hack.

Joe was joined by Maree Tomkinson who is an Australian Dressage rider. Maree is a former show rider and made the switch from hacking to dressage in 2002 after countless Champion Lady Rider and Champion Hack awards. Maree was awarded Equestrian Australia’s domestic athlete of the year award in 2012 and represented Australia at the 2014 at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy.

Despite being in the midst of the busy Sydney Autumn Carnival, Joe took the time to focus on thoroughbreds and retired racehorses. It was refreshing to see so many off the track horses competing at the Sydney Royal. Pride Racing is dedicated to ensuring their horses find a first class home at the end of their racing career and hacking is just one discipline where the thoroughbred can excel after racing.

Joe's first class of the morning was Class 410 Led Thoroughbred Mare 4 years old and over not exceeding 16hh. There were some stunning exhibits however Joe felt one mare in particular stood out in the class. That mare was Divinity by Oratorio who was ridden by her owner Kathleen Mullan from Melbourne. Divinity raced as Tide Up and was bred by Mungrup Stud in WA. She had 7 starts for 1 placing and retired in June 2016. Kathleen bought her sight unseen after her mare was retired due to injury and she was looking for her new competition partner.

Kathleen has had plenty of experience with off the track horses as she has came from a harness racing family. She enjoys the challenge of retraining, developing a relationship and getting them to switch gears from speed machine to elegant show hack. Since commencing her show career in January 2018, Divinity has won countless events with the F L Crane Cup for Mares at this years show being her target.

Class 411 Led Thoroughbred Mare 4 years old and over, over 16hh was Joe's second class of the day. This was won by Etiquette who was led in by Jason Phillips. Etiquette is a ten year old mare and raced as Pleasurena. She was the winner of 4 races with 13 placings from 37 starts. This mare was bred by Lomar Park Stud, one of the original foundation studs who offered stock for sale at Inglis in 1969. After 50 years, their last yearlings went through the sales ring at the recent Inglis Classic and Easter sales.

Class 412 Led Thoroughbred Gelding 4 years and over, not exceeding 16hh was the third class of the day for Joe and this was won by Whispering Jack who raced as Infourit, by Kaphero. He had 25 starts for 2 wins and 5 placings. He was a country galloper and earned over $36,000 in prizemoney.

Class 413 Led Thoroughbred Gelding, 4 years old and over, over 16hh was won by SLM Footsteps. He raced as Footstepsinthedust winning 4 races from 32 starts. He was once trained by the late Guy Walter between 2010 and 2011. He is by Footstepsinthesand and earned over $50,000 on the track.

Later in the day Joe and Maree Tomkinson carefully inspected the numerous exhibits in the F L Crane Perpetual Trophy for mares over 15hh and not exceeding 16hh. After careful deliberation, the prize was awarded to Kathleen Mullan and Divinity who earlier in the day won Class 410 and Best Thoroughbred Exhibit. After a very successful season, Divinity will now have a short break and be prepared for the Royal Melbourne Show in September.

Joe and Maree were then joined by 63 entrants for The Col A V Pope Silver Perpetual Trophy, Best Gelding Hack over 15hh. There were a number of fine thoroughbreds on display who were reduced to eight candidates for final individual parades. The only grey, Rolex II, by sire Bradbury's Luck (who raced as Grey Assassin) was chosen as the winner, presented by rider Kaitlin Labahn-Meyland. Grey Assassin was bred by Glenlogan Park and had 10 race starts for 1 win and 3 seconds.

Rolex II was purchased from Universal Stables were he was trained to be a show horse after his racing career. He was originally in training for showjumping with the Langbecker family however they felt he was better suited for the show ring. He has now been nicknamed Liam and has been a delight for Kaitlin. He has had a successful time in the show ring winning Champion Child Hack at the EA Nationals, Champion Child Hack at the Victorian Horse of the Year where he was also crowned Champion Open Hack. His victory at Sydney Royal means he is the current dual Pope Cup Champion having also won the Pope Cup at the Royal Melbourne Show last year.

Liam is Kaitlin's first off the track horse and she now believes that thoroughbreds are a very versatile animal with fluent movement. This is also Kaitlins first Sydney Royal appearance and she is over the moon with her result. Liam was a stand out the main arena on Good Friday and Kaitlin is very humbled to be awarded such a prestigious class at such a young age. Kaitlin and Liam then went on to win the Mackay Memorial Perpetual Cup, donated by the late Margaret Pennefather, and the late Jamie Mackay, in memory of the late J K (Ken) & Phil Mackay, for the Australian National Champion Hack.

These classes are just one example of how thoroughbreds are regularly retrained at the end of their racing careers and Joe was delighted to be given the opportunity to see, and be a part of, the end result.

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