Age no barrier for Sugarbag Red Impressions

When most people hear the words Off the Track Thoroughbred (OTT), the stereotypical image of a wild-eyed, half-crazed horse needing lots of re-training usually comes to mind.

However, when Rebecca Henry was offered a rather dopy looking OTT prospect spelling at the Tolga Racecourse, her first thoughts were that despite being a hairy fluffball, he would make a good show jumper.

Five-year-old Sugarbag Red Impressions, as he came to be known, was retired from racing and began his new career as a show jumper with Henry – a well-known Far North Queensland show jump rider and Equestrian Australia accredited Level 2 show jumping specialist coach.

After free jumping him, Rebecca quickly realised his jumping talent, and that her gamble had paid off.

“I went with my gut, took a gamble and bought him without riding him first,” Henry said.

“Red has a huge personality; he’s kind, hard-working and unflappable. 

“He has a well-balanced jump and he’s even pretty good at mustering cattle!”

For the next several years, Rebecca and Red competed widely and successfully, show jumping 1m+ courses throughout New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and Queensland.

In 2016, Red was sold to Rob Button and again successfully competed up to 1.20m by his daughter, Jessica. 

‘Red was a very consistent, reliable showjumper who taught Jess many valuable lessons over the four years,” Button said.

“Together they accomplished so much as a team and because of Red, Jess has grown into a very confident, faithful young rider – we couldn’t have asked for a better horse.”

In early 2020, Red found a new and forever home with his current owner, 13-year-old Ruby Collins, who promptly put him back into competition.

At the recent Tropical North Show Jumping Club Championships in September 2020, Ruby and Red came first in the 1.04m Off the Track Spectacular, sponsored by Racing Queensland. 

At 20-years-old, Red was the oldest horse in the competition and Ruby, the youngest rider.

“Red is the best horse ever; I love him and I’m lucky to be his owner.” Ruby Collins said.

Since leaving the track over 15 years ago, Sugarbag Red Impressions is a perfect example of how Off the Track Thoroughbreds can defy stereotypes and go on to have long and successful careers in other equestrian pursuits once they have finished racing.

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