Many BHS South volunteers and members took up the recent generous offer of complimentary tickets from The Racecourse Newbury to attend the Greatwood Charity and Equestrian Raceday on Saturday 2 March.
There was a general equestrian theme to the day, celebrating the beauty and versatility of the horse through a variety displays, topped by a dressage demonstration featuring dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Kauto Star and his new rider, Laura Collett.
Laura first rode her 4* eventer, Rayef, the horse who gave her her first senior team cap at the 2011 European Championships in Luhmuhlen. Put through their paces by Team GB World Class Performance Manager Yogi Breisner, Laura and Rayef showed off their talents both on the flat and over showjumps in the relatively small pre-parade ring.
In the parade ring itself, there followed a demonstration of retrained racehorses, highlighting how thoroughbreds retired from the track can go on to useful careers in many disciplines - in this case including dressage, western, side-saddle, the Pony Club and endurance.
Laura Collett then returned, this time aboard her world-famous new ride, Kauto Star. Retired in a blaze of glory following two Gold Cup and five King George VI wins, Kauto was offered to Laura to retrain for dressage by his owner, Clive Smith, who wanted him to enjoy sport in his racing retirement but in a quieter, safer sport. Event rider Laura was chosen to retrain him as she has worked with ex-racehorses before and is trained regularly by Yogi Breisner, himself vastly experience with thoroughbreds. As Yogi put Laura and Kauto Star to the test, in what was the horse's first public outing under saddle since his retirement from racing, Clive Smith talked with obvious affection about this wonderful horse.
The demonstrations added a wonderful bonus to a great days' racing, which itself saw a sixth win for Kauto Star's former trainer, Paul Nicholls, in the feature race, the StanJames Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup, when Ryan Mahon rode the 18-1 shot Pacha du Polder to victory.