From racetrack to pony club

Not every thoroughbred manages to ‘find its feet’ on the racetrack. Such was the case for six- year- old gelding Billeve Angels.

Bred by Arrowfield Pastoral Pty Ltd and Belford Productions, Billeve Angels was sold by Arrowfield at the 2013 Scone Thoroughbred Sale to trainer John Marzol.  Despite being the son of Group 1 winner All American out of the Group-winning mare Galroof, and a half-brother to two stakeswinners, the brown gelding showed no aptitude for racing in five starts. Instead, Billeve Angels found a new home and a new life with Amber Pollard, sister to jockey Shelley Walsh.

It takes real commitment and a deep love of horses to get out of bed to ride trackwork before heading to a 9-to-5 job, but for Amber it’s all in a day’s work. Every day for the past 15 years, Amber has ridden trackwork because of her passion for, and interest in racehorses.

That’s how she met Billeve Angels, now affectionately known as ‘Duke’. “My partner and I rode him at trackwork for John Marzol. My partner took a particular liking to him and when John realised the track wasn’t suited to him, he offered him to us!”

Active in the Pony Club scene, Amber has re-trained many thoroughbreds to become top pony club horses. “I love the thoroughbreds and I currently have 11 off the track horses in my paddocks, waiting for me to re-train and pass them on and find their new homes.”

Amber has notched up many successes with this work, including one close to home. “This year my niece competed at the Pony Club National Championships held in Toowoomba. Although she is only 12 years old, she rode my 12-year-old thoroughbred gelding. He never had a start, due to breathing problems, but he’s proving to be a great schoolmaster for my niece.”

One of the keys to Amber’s success is patience, as she explains. “I believe every thoroughbred has a purpose after racing, you just need to give them time to adjust. If possible, I like to give them between 6 and 12 months off after their racing careers to allow them to really let down.”

The transition from racetrack to pony club demonstrates the versatility of the thoroughbred, and the enduring value of the kind and dedicated handling they receive from stud and stable staff as young horses.

The team at Arrowfield congratulates Amber on her work to re-train off the track thoroughbreds and we look forward to seeing ‘Duke’ around the pony club circuit! 

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