From Racetrack to Royalty
An ex-racehorse bred by Her Majesty The Queen will compete this weekend at the Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing, at Gatcombe Park. Galley Proof is being ridden by 16-year-old Olive Nicholls, daughter of 13 times Champion National Hunt trainer Paul Nicholls. Olive and Galley Proof will compete in the ROR/NTF Retrained Racehorse Championship, which starts with the dressage today, concluding with the showjumping and cross country tomorrow.
Galley Proof was bred by HM The Queen back in 2012 and after retiring he was gifted to Lucinda White who was working at Sandringham at the time. A friend of Lucinda’s, Nicky Hill started to retrain him for eventing and competed him from 2018 up to 3* level before being sold to Georgina Browne, Olive’s mum. Georgina explains “We have had him since the autumn and have been really delighted with him. He is super sensitive so is ideally a one-person horse, he can be complicated, particularly in the showjumping, Olive seems to have a way with him. She doesn’t jump a twig in the warmup and it seems to work, she just trots around and then off they go – they have a really good rapport, he is her horse of a lifetime.”
Galley Proof has proved to be bold and speedy cross country having not clocked up any time faults in his British Eventing career so far. “Ex-racehorses often make excellent event horses, as they are quick thinking, quick to learn, they are fast and have lots of stamina, I train point to pointers so I can’t look past them,” explains Georgina.
Olive event rides in the summer and point to points in the winter, having had 11 winners in her first season and a couple of spins over hurdles. Having grown up around horses, up until the age of 12 Olive did lots of showjumping and Shetland Pony Grand National racing, having competed in both competitions at The Festival in the past. Over the last four years Olive’s goal was to be selected for the GB Pony eventing team, sadly due to Covid the competition didn’t happen.
“Riding Galley is an absolute privilege and I envision it as an opportunity rather than a pressure! He is extremely talented and being bred by Her Majesty The Queen just makes it a bit more special!”
The RoR/NTF Retrained Racehorse Event Championship runs as an Intermediate Novice meaning combinations undertake an Intermediate dressage and show jumping test but run at Novice cross country height. The top 10 after cross country are invited back to show jump again the following day, to compete for the top-level prize money. For this championship, the Retraining of Racehorses sponsors have put up a £6,000 prize-fund.
The championship is open to any former racehorse that has raced under the rules of a recognised racing authority and is Retraining of Racehorses competition registered.
“Magic Millions supports the ongoing pursuit of equestrian events that transition thoroughbred racehorses into an extended sport horse career. The Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing RoR/NTF Retrained Racehorse Event Horse Championship creates a compelling pathway to encourage and reward trainers and competitors alike to work with thoroughbred racehorses as competitive sport horses. It makes complete sense – thoroughbreds are an extraordinary animal, so athletic and highly intelligent. These horses thrive with the challenge of the multi-discipline training and their natural speed, agility and strength make them a versatile competitor. Increasing the available talent pool of competitive sport horses will enable more people to participate at the higher levels of elite equestrian competition and lifts the standard of competition overall,” explains Katie Page-Harvey Co-owner of Magic Millions, Australian Thoroughbred Auction House.