Making The Unthinkable Happen

By Abby Delucyk

Para-Dressage rider, Simone Salter made the unthinkable happen with Team Thoroughbred graduate Vegas Vic after competing in the Riding For The Disabled competition just two weeks after purchasing him.

Haven ridden since she was 8 years old, Tamworth-based Simone became a para-rider after she was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. Despite this, Simone has continued to pursue her love of riding and is now a qualified Dressage coach and judge.

In need of a new competition horse, Simone reached out to Alec at Belltrees Retraining Farm after previously purchasing an OTTB through the Team Thoroughbred rehoming program at Belltrees.

The handsome Vegas Vic caught the eye of Simone when she first visited the farm.

“I needed to find a horse that had the right temperament and trainability. Alec knew exactly what I was looking for and suggested Vic,” Simone explained.

“Vegas Vic has a very cool, calm and collected demeanor which I love. He doesn’t like leaving his friends very much but other than that he is an easy horse to ride.”

This duo wasted no time and got straight into their training.

Simone rode Vic every day for a week before she floated him down to Sydney where they participated in an Equine Pathway Clinic. Their trip to Sydney was extended where they competed in the Riding For The Disabled NSW Championships.

“I was supposed to compete with another horse, but we had an accident and missed out on the qualifiers with him. I needed a horse to fill in the gaps and Vegas Vic was the answer.”

And the duo soared, taking home lots of ribbons.

“Everyone thought I was crazy. We made such a good connection to be able to do what we have done in the past two weeks,” Simone recalled.

With their success fast-tracked, Simone and Vegas Vic set their sights on the upcoming Equimillion competition.

“We are also attempting to qualify for the 2032 Brisbane Olympics which is a long process but that is where we are heading,” Simone concluded.

New Glory For Champion Cristal Breeze

By Abby Delucyk

On Saturday April 17, Cristal Breeze galloped down the straight at Royal Randwick to take out the 2021 Provincial Mid-Way Championships. All while his strapper, Ellie Rogers, cheered him home with tears in her eyes!

This duo’s bond dates back to 2019 when Cristal Breeze first arrived on Australian soil, with Ellie tasked to ride him every morning for Kris Lees. “No one actually really liked him because he had a very spooky, shy personality. I found that he was slow to trust people which I quite liked about him, and our friendship really just grew from there,” Ellie said.

“I worked with him at the stables, brushed him and strapped him in his first start which he won at Canterbury in the June of 2020,” she said. 9 months after his first start, Cristal Breeze qualified for the Provincial Championship Final after coming in second at Newcastle.

“No one was really backing him too much for the championships and were picking different horses as Kris had 6 horses in the race. I was quietly confident he would run a good race but didn’t think he would have it in him to win,” Ellie claimed.

However, Cristal Breeze made the unthinkable happen, winning the 2021 Provincial Championships Final at Royal Randwick, with Ellie marking this moment a highlight in her strapping career.

After achieving this success, Cristal Breeze made the trip up north to QLD where he went on to race while Ellie was forced to stay in NSW. Despite this, Ellie kept a close eye on this champion and was in constant contact with his owners and Australian Bloodstock who previously helped import him.

Ellie Rodgers strapping Cristal Breeze. Credit: Bradley Photos

“I think everyone knew that once he was ready to retire, I was the first in line,” Ellie said.

“It was after a race in Queensland that one of the owners actually dm’ed me on Instagram and mentioned that they think that might have been his last race. I was so excited but just didn’t want to get my hopes up too early,” she said.

It was a message that came from Australian Bloodstock owner, Luke Murrell, that allowed Cristal Breeze to be officially retired to Ellie.

This duo wasted no time and quickly got into retraining after he was transported back down to NSW. “Cristal is so quiet and relaxed. Everyone says he looks so happy now and has really come out of his shell.”

His home track, Newcastle Jockey Club chose Cristal Breeze as one of four picked to be a sponsored rider in the upcoming Equimillion competition. Ellie has entered Cristal into the classes of eventing and show jumping after he has shown lots of talent in jumping.  

“Our main goal is just to have fun and get some prizemoney as there is a lot on offer. We are going to take it step by step,” Ellie said.

We wish this pair good luck in Equimillion!