Over 130 Off the Track Thoroughbreds are set to star on the polo field in last weekend’s coveted Ballarat Cup.
Speed, stamina and adaptability, three common attributes of the Off the Track thoroughbred will be on display in regional Victoria this weekend when a collection of retired gallopers take to the polo field for the coveted Ballarat Cup.
The weekend’s event is one of the most popular on the Victorian polo circuit, approximately half of the expected 270 competing horses arrive with some history on the racetrack.
Hosting the annual event was the Yaloak Polo Club whose Captain, Greg Keyte, and daughter Kelly Fernandez, will be among those to partner an off the track thoroughbred. Greg, an internationally-recognised polo player with decades of experience, rides Tailings mare Ying Yang while daughter Kelly partners another seasoned mare, Extra.
Ying Yang, raced as Gonnagetcha by Victorian trainer Jacquie Joiner, was unplaced in four starts on provincial tracks while Extra, bred for a career in racing, has a blank form card. Despite their modest racing record, the pair have displayed gifted ability in a sport both Keyte and Fernandez believe their unassuming, more agile frames are suited to.
“The best polo horses are nimble and fast, obviously they have to run as fast as they can and be able to stop and turn pretty quickly,” Fernandez said.
“It’s a very physically demanding game and you need a horse that can stand up to that, which thoroughbreds typically can.
“Extra is just perfectly suited to polo because she’s very fast and quite light on her feet which is good.”
Greg added that his mount Ying Yang, already well recognised within the polo community, was a perfect example of a thoroughbred that, given time to learn the sport, could make an ideal mount for high level competition.
“She’s a great horse, she played in the winning team at the prestigious Garangula tournament and was awarded Australian Champion Polo Pony last year,” Keyte said. “Most horses take about two years to retrain to a high standard, however they start in their first game within 12 months.”
Saturday’s event which kicked off at 11am at the Yaloak Polo Club in Ballan, saw approximately 1500 spectators turn up to watch some of Australia’s leading talents battle it out for the coveted prize.
Story compliments of Racing Victoria/Off the Track