We are delighted to announce that we have joined the exciting ROR #HorsesForCourses initiative to showcase the care given and opportunities open to former racehorses once their racing days come to an end.

We proudly present Baron Alco as our ROR #HorsesForCourses ambassador!

For many, Baron Alco will require no introduction, trained by Gary Moore and ridden by Jamie Moore, he won a pair of Cheltenham Bonus series races in the 2016/17 season for owner John Stone and went on to have a thrilling victory in the 2018 BetVictor Gold Cup, defeating Frodon. Memorably for us here at Plumpton, he won two novice classes here in 2016/17 before coming 2nd in the Grade 3.

Baron Alco, or Barry to his friends, is now enjoying a varied life and is a much-loved part of the family. His owner, Diana, describes him as an incredible horse to ride, “he’s so balanced and athletic and always has a smile on his face, his love of life is infectious… he has nothing to prove now, anything he achieves competitively is a bonus!”
Baron Alco’s story is an inspiring example of the potential and versatility of retired racehorses, and with his charisma and presence, we are sure he will play a pivotal role in promoting the program’s mission to support the retraining and rehoming of retired racehorses, ensuring they have fulfilling and purposeful lives beyond their racing career.
We can’t wait to welcome Barry back to Plumpton and to share more updates on his fabulous life after the track.

Our journey from Racehorse to Dressage horse.
Written by Diana

My plan to take Barry to the British Dressage Associated Championship originated in August when my sister told me she had qualified her ex-racehorse (& Barry’s best friend) Ben. This sounded like a great fun couple of days away at a lovely venue and I didn’t want to miss out, the only slight issue was that you needed three qualifying scores at affiliated dressage before the end of august to qualify and that only gave me 3 weeks to do it, with Barry never having seen a dressage arena! Challenge accepted! Off we went to our first ever dressage competition, with no expectations and very much hoping that he would behave himself. I shouldn’t have worried, he was so happy to be at a party, behaved beautifully and won! Two more shows which went well with another 1st & 2nd meant we had achieved our qualification.

On Thursday 16th November we headed off to Vale View Equestrian, the plan was to ride them when we got there as they had both had a couple of days off. Of course, the M25 had other plans and it took twice that long to get there, by which time it was too late to ride, so we settled them into their stables and headed off to find some food for ourselves to realise the restaurant had already closed, we opted for a glass of wine and an early night. As it happens a shiny sleeping bag on a lorry bed that’s also slippery when parked on a bit on an incline means you don’t wake up in the same place you went to sleep!

I decided that we should do the arena familiarisation walk at 7.30am as neither of them had been in such a fancy indoor arena before. Whilst this seemed like a good idea to us the boys had decided that they were obviously at the races, probably not helped by the white fencing everywhere, early start and championship atmosphere! We made our way to the ‘international indoor arena’ with our pair of unexploded bombs that were prancing and snorting (apparently this was all Barry’s fault – no comment). Fortunately they did manage to contain themselves and not cause complete chaos so after giving them both a bit of work to settle them we went to find ourselves some well earned breakfast.

Our first test was in the ROR section. Barry warmed up beautifully in the outdoor arena and it was now our turn, I found two judges was a little daunting but Barry was unfazed, in his mind that was just more people to admire how fabulous he is! After a beautiful start to the test he decided he had something in his ear so had to shake that out, that understandably lost us some crucial marks but we still finished 2nd, celebratory drink that night (for surviving the arena walk as much as the 2nd place!)

Copyright – Kevin Sparrow

Saturday morning we opted to not do the arena walk, our test in the thoroughbred section wasn’t until nearly 7pm so a lot of cuddling Barry and making sure he was super shiny and beautiful to fill the day. By the time I tacked up it was dark, raining and very windy, we had to abandon an exercise rug because it kept taking off. Barry and Ben had also decided that they were inseparable by this point so that made things even more exciting. In all honesty I wasn’t holding out much hope for this test going well but we would give it our best go. The brightly lit indoor school was so different from outside, we trotted around once until the bell went for us to start. Barry was a little tense but he tried so hard to work with me and aside from a couple of small mistakes did a lovely test. We got some really lovely comments from the judges and we won!!

Fortunately, the journey home was a lot less eventful and he is now enjoying a few days downtime playing in the mud with Ben.

I’m so proud of how he has embraced this journey with me. Never did I think a few months ago that we would be winning at the British Dressage Championships!! He is such a special horse, he just oozes class in everything he does and it’s such a privilege to share his life with him. Looking forward to our next challenge, to be decided…