After only a few outings with new owner Catherine Mason Balty was crowned Champion at a novice show at Greenlands Equestrian Centre near Carlisle in mid-September.
He won the in-hand class, the showing class and was second in the best turned out to walk away with the red ribbons – much to the delight of 21-year-old Catherine.
“He’s a natural,” she enthuses. “Like a lot of ex-racehorses, all he wants to do is please you. He’s also a bit of a poseur so he loves being in the show ring.”
Before gaining Champion status, Balty only just missed out on qualification for the Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) Championships at Aintree in August, finishing fourth in the in-hand class at Cumbria’s Nord Vue Equestrian Centre.
“This is his first full year competing so he’s done brilliantly,” adds Catherine, who lives in Penrith and works at a local livery yard that specialises in equine physiotherapy.
“It’s whetted my appetite to do more RoR classes next year and hopefully make it through to the national finals with him. Until then I plan to do some winter dressage just to keep ticking over.”
Balty’s first event with his devoted new owner in March last year was a winning one but lockdown put a halt to their progress. “I knew he would do well after that because he wasn’t 100 per cent back then and I had plenty to work on,” recalls Catherine.
“He looks fantastic now and people we meet connect with him because of his success on the racetrack. He’s absolutely loving life with my other ex-racehorse Lucky Sunny, who is 18 now but still full of life.”
Sunny won three races, including two handicap chases for Lucinda Russell, but Balty’s seven successes on the Flat included the Group 3 Superior Mile at Haydock Park in 2015 for trainer Brian Ellison and Koo’s Racing Club. He was also fourth in a Royal Hunt Cup and won over £220,000 in prize money.
“I used to follow him when he was racing,” adds Catherine. ‘As my dog was called Balty I was always drawn to his name so you can imagine my excitement when I saw him advertised on Facebook.
“He’d been placed with the Solway Racehorses re-homing centre up in the North and was looking for his forever home. I went to see him but never thought I’d be lucky enough to get him.
“He hadn’t been ridden for two years because of his injury but was so sweet from the moment I met him,” she says. “He’s got such an amazing temperament and really puts his trust in me. It was love at first sight.”