Jump Off Episode One – Behind the Scenes & Highlights
Yesterday afternoon the first episode of the long awaited TV series, Jump Off, debuted on Network Seven. In this episode we got to meet four of the five teams and watched in interest as the riders got to meet some of the prospective horses from their trainers – with mixed results! It was great to see the different ways the riders used to make their initial horse assessments.
Vicki Roycroft met the horses that James Cummings had selected for her: Magic Hurricane – an 8 year old bay gelding who has won $735,657 over his racing career, Retaliation – a 4 year old bay gelding with winnings of $57,585, Inner Circle – a 5 year old chestnut gelding who’s won $62,450, Lassitude – a 7 year old brown gelding with winnings of $100,145 and Havana Cooler – a 9 year old liver chestnut gelding who has career winnings of $336,092 and reminded Vicki of her favourite horse of all time – Apache, her Thoroughbred who won a CSI5* Grand Prix in Rome and was in the top ten in the World Cup Finals in the 1980’s.
Roycroft emphasised the importance of their brain, whether the horse wanted to jump and whether they were brave enough to jump and careful enough to not knock rails.
Although her competition horses are now all Warmbloods, Roycroft still has an incredible affinity with Thoroughbreds and Australian Jumping caught up with her to hear her thoughts on these horses for jumping.
Roycroft starts by sharing some of her experiences from competing in Europe on Thoroughbreds in the 80’s: “Warmbloods were starting to come in at that stage but he (speaking of her beloved Apache) certainly was a novelty in Europe. Later, when I took Coalminer to Europe, who was probably my second best horse and also a thoroughbred, people looked at him because he was enormously scopey and people were saying – “oh he must be Warmblood and I when I said Thoroughbred they were quite surprised!”.
Asking Roycroft about the experience of again working with Thoroughbreds, this time for the Jump-off Series, Roycroft states: The exercise has been fascinating working with these three thoroughbreds. They are just so much easier than the Warmbloods. I was speaking with George Morris who’s a passionate thoroughbred man, and you know, he said “people still haven’t worked out that these spooky Warmbloods are not as amenable as the Thoroughbreds”. The Thoroughbreds are the ones I look forward to riding. Even the Warmbloods that I have bred, I love them, but they’re not as easy as Thoroughbreds.
When asked about the training of Off theTrack (OTT) Thoroughbreds for a jumping career, Roycroft says: It’s good if they have done some racing because they know how to travel, they know how to walk, trot and canter and they are a bit used to atmosphere. I think in general they have more intelligence than the Warmbloods, they tend to be easier to teach and they are more responsive. And at the end of the day they are braver, you don’t get the spooky issues that you get with Warmbloods. I actually find them easier to train because they’re more willing.
After testing a few of the horses in the round yard, it was Inner Circle who at the end of the day was at the top of her list.
Dave Cameron met superstar Lankan Rupee – an 8 year old bay gelding with impressive winnings of $4,129,510 and Cameron was certainly impressed with him! So that’s one horse lined up for Team Cameron/Price.
Russell Johnstone had a bumpy start, testing out Corbie Abbey – an 8 year old unraced bay gelding, Jabel – a 10 year old brown gelding with winnings of $31,135 and Packing Empire – a 9 year old unraced bay gelding with winnings of $89,225 and Mizani a 10 Year Old Grey Gelding with winnings of $477,827. Corbie Abbey had a small injury and needed some attention and other three were also lovely types but not what Russell was looking for in this competition. So no horses selected yet for Team Johnstone/Hayes.
Peter and Michelle McMahon were keen to find some retired steeplechasers an advantage of working with Darren Weir and were immediately impressed with Gotta Take Care (Woody) – a champion hurdler that won over 20 races. That’s one locked in for Team McMahon/Weir.
NEXT WEEK ON JUMP OFF
It was clear from Episode One that not all retired racehorses will become jumpers, but we know for sure that there are plenty of other options for them. We are looking forward to seeing this selection process continue next week as we meet the final team, Jamie Kermond and Patrick Payne. How will the selection process go for them? Will Russell Johnstone have better luck finding suitable horses in Episode 2 and will Dave Cameron find a couple more to work with?
Don’t forget, if you missed Episode One or want to see it again, replays of Jump Off will also air on Racing.com (Ch 78) three times a week – Monday evening at 6:30pm, Saturday at 8:30pm and Sunday mornings at 8:30am.