The 2020/21 EA Australasian Show Horse & Rider Championships converged on Werribee Park National Equestrian Centre last month, with competitors keen to finally put their best hooves forward in an effort to claim a coveted national title.
Ever-present in the show ring, many Thoroughbreds caught the eye – including the Racing Victoria (RV) Off The Track (OTT) Ridden Thoroughbred Championship winner, St Andrews, and stunning OTT Fashions in the Field accessory, Royal Highness. We caught up with their human counterparts to find out more about these OTT stars.
‘ANDY’ WOWS AGAIN
No stranger to the winner’s circle at the Nationals having been crowned Champion RV OTT Ridden Thoroughbred in 2019, 13-year-old gelding St Andrews was a stand out again this year. “That was such an exciting win and I’m so proud of how Andy worked,” says rider and owner Natalie McKay. “He was the 2019 winner, so we weren’t expecting to take out the honour again. The class was extremely well supported with horses from all over Australia competing, including some very highly decorated ones too.” It was indeed a strong field with the runner-up, Rolex II – ridden by Kaitlin Labahn-Meyland and owned by Michelle Labahn – later taking out the open Large Hack Championship.
Speaking about Andy’s performance in the OTT Championship, Natalie explains that competitors were given a pre-set workout that included a hand-gallop. “I think Andy knows when he is ‘on show’ because as soon as you turn him to enter the arena to do your individual workout, he lifts himself and really shows off. I was, however, a little concerned with the gallop, as being an ‘open’ show horse we try to avoid it, but I knew Andy could do it and this was the time to go for it – to my surprise, he actually went along quite nicely. Every horse in the class did a beautiful workout so I think the judges had a very tough decision.”
St Andrews was foaled at Rich Hill Stud in New Zealand, by Sandtrap (USA) out of Nuns Chorus (NZ) who is by College Chapel (GB). He began his racing career in October 2012 in New Zealand, where he ran last and was then relocated to Brisbane to be trained by Robert Heathcote and later Marcus Wilson. He had his last race in June 2016, and retired with 30 starts for five wins, eight placings and $65k in prizemoney.
“I purchased him in December 2018 from Adam Oliver of Universal Stables in Queensland,” explains Natalie. “In late 2016, Adam had spotted Andy when he went to look at another horse at Marcus Wilson’s stables at the Gold Coast Turf Club. Adam let Andy spell at home for a few months before transitioning him to be a show horse.” Adam took St Andrews to his first show in September 2017, and as Natalie explains, success quickly followed: “In November that year, he won the Tamworth Hack Championships and then won his Novice class at Sydney Royal. He was then runner-up Large Hack at the Queensland HOTY in 2018 and was third at the EA Show Horse Nationals in December.”