Heagney is a name synonymous with the thoroughbred racing and breeding industry, with Peter Heagney being the voice of Inglis and a wonderful supporter of the breeding industry throughout Victoria.
However, it was his wife Helen who was back in the winner’s circle, with her beloved Off The Track Thoroughbred, Auteuil taking out the event for ex-racehorses under saddle at the recent Lancefield Show.
The gleaming and typey hack, Auteuil, who raced as Gibralatar Melody was bred by Woodside Park Stud in Tylden is a ten-year-old gelding by Rock of Gibraltar out of the Piccolo mare Melody Bay, was luckily spotted by Helen’s sister when out inspecting yearlings.
“My sister liked the look of him, as he was a lovely type. A dark brown, fine-boned thoroughbred that made a lovely shape. When Peter let me know that he was entered in the next Inglis mixed sale, I made a few enquiries about him, and he got the thumbs up temperament wise, but unfortunately, he sold for $8000, which was out of our budget for an equestrian prospect.”
“Being still a sound racing proposition, he headed over to Murray Bridge in South Australia to be trained by John Peacock, before having two unsuccessful campaigns in Alice Spring where he was aimed at the Guineas.”
“I stayed in touch with John over the next two years, and in the end, when they believed his competitive racing days were over, they contacted me and asked if I would be still interested in the horse. I still hadn’t seen him myself and he arrived in the middle of the night, but as all I had to pay was the $700 to cover the cost of the float trip back to Melbourne, he was well worth it, and I am delighted I did.”
“He has been a lovely horse to re-train and he doesn’t have a dirty bone in his body. Like most thoroughbreds they can be a little nervous, but we have now developed a solid relationship as his confidence has grown and he has learnt to trust me as his rider.”
“I would like to thank Hesket Bloodstock’s David and Jenny Moodie for their kind and generous donation by sponsoring the Off The Track class, a cause they are equally passionate about. It is a wonderful initiative that demonstrates the trainability and versatility the thoroughbred racehorse, while highlighting that they can have a long and prosperous career ahead of them post racing.”
“I am looking forward to getting Gezza, (named after the former manager of Woodside Park Stud, Gerrard Jones) out to a few more shows over summer and just enjoy showing him in a relaxed environment,” citing her highly competitive days are behind her.
“It is wonderful competing in the Royal shows and the Garryowen, but with Auteuil, I am just looking at local shows while promoting the usefulness and beauty of the thoroughbred.”
A showing legend and dressage judge, Helen has a lifetime of competitive experience, having won four Garryowen Trophies, produced three FEI horses, and represented Australia in Pacific League competitions at Prix St. George level.
Helen has had extensive experience in serving Equestrian Australia and is an A Level Dressage Judge and Judge Educator, having judged extensively throughout Australia. She is also a Young Horse Judge Educator and General Judge Educator, having served as Chair of the Dressage Judges’ Education Panel in Victoria for 14 years.
Helen is also instrumental in organising the National Final of the Off The Track series which will be held on Friday 30th November 2018 at Werribee Park National Equestrian Centre.
With an experienced and diverse panel of judges it is sure to be a highly competitive and contested event. The judges include racehorse trainer Tony McEvoy’s wife, Jo McEvoy, UK Judge Jerome Harforth who has an extensive background in showing thoroughbreds in England and highly respected Equestrian Australia’s Team vet, Dr Dennis Goulding.
While the OTT final is only open to qualified combinations, they will also be holding the incredibly popular Fashions on the Field event which will be open to all.
An event where the fashions worn by the handler are equally as important as the turnout of the horse, this in-hand event is rapidly gaining popularity and is a real treat for spectators. Amongst the judges will be VRC Chairman Amanda Elliot, Racing Victoria ambassador Georgia Connelly and the Herald Sun’s Celebrity and Fashion writer Fiona Byrne.
Indeed, a night not to be missed by both racing enthusiasts and equestrian lovers alike.