Courtesy Retired Racehorse ProjectChristy Clagett, MFH Marlborough Hunt, is no stranger to training ex-racehorses for the hunt field. She runs her own racing operation at Larking Hill Training Center in Harwood, Maryland, and through the years has turned a seemingly infinite number of hopeless racehorses into happy hunters. The difference this time is that her newest project, Saba Rock (Van Nistelrooy- Sabina, Coxs Ridge), will not just lead the field at Marlborough one day, but he will strut his stuff at the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover: Marketplace and Symposium at Pimlico Racecourse October 4 and 5, 2014.
A strapping 16.3 chestnut gelding foaled in West Virginia in 2006, Saba hit the board only four times in 17 starts and earned $24, 047; a paltry sum considering he was an $85,000 yearling. Clagett has known Saba from the beginning. She started him in his racing career and in May of this year began his training for hunting.
e-Covertside: You have retrained numerous Thoroughbred for hunting. What is your normal routine in preparing a horse to hunt? Did you do anything differently with Saba knowing he will be performing at Pimlico in October?
Christy: I am doing what I usually do: riding through the woods and streams, opening and closing gates, moving jump riders up and down with my hunting whip. As a Master, I don’t crack my whip, but we have been practicing cracking for the event at Pimlico. Saba goes cross country three days a week for fitness and we started jumping a while back; I don’t jump in a ring, I go straight to jumping over logs following behind a seasoned horse. He has also started hilltopping with one of my employees in the tack while I lead the first field.