Finalists – Thoroughbred Care and Welfare Award 2020
29 May 2020
In an area of the industry that is both sensitive and essential, Jade Willis and Liz Andriske fill a role that can never be supported too strongly.
Willis and Andriske, the finalists in the Thoroughbred Care and Welfare Category of the Stud and Stable Staff Awards, give time, money and boundless energy to provide new lives for as many former racehorses as they can.
And in an area that figures prominently in the vision of Godolphin’s founder, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, they continue a tradition of selfless devotion in this category of the SSSA.
Willis began her association with racing in New Zealand in the stable of trainer Dave Enright who gave her a horse to retrain, igniting a passion for giving old thoroughbreds new homes
After pursuing her passion while working for a number of racing and general equestrian operations, Willis formed JW Equestrian, a business aimed at finding alternative, useful, loving homes and occupations for retired racehorses.
As well as retraining off-track thoroughbreds (OTT), and finding them new owners, Willis instructs their riders in various equestrian disciplines and competes herself in eventing.
“I started the business to give horses a chance to be champions off the racecourse,” Willis said.
“I always loved thoroughbreds and I decided that if I was going to do this, I would do it properly.”
That meant buying a 40-acre property to train and condition the horses she acquires from their previous owners and trainers.
And Willis’s ambitions for old racehorses don’t stop at re-education.
“I’d love to get into rehabilitation. Anything I’m lucky enough to receive from these awards will go toward that,” she said.
“But whatever happens, I’m so thankful for the people who nominated me and for the effort that has gone into the SSSA from Godolphin, the TBA, Racing Australia and the sponsors.”
Willis’s compassion isn’t confined to horses.
During the devastating bushfires of early 2020 she also organised and co-ordinated three convoys that delivered fodder and equipment to farms across southern Australia.
Liz Andriske started off in the rehoming business more as a rescuer of horses who passed through sales around Victoria.
Most were headed to the knackery, but thanks to Andriske, hundreds of horses have been saved and rehomed.
Operating these days as Spare One Thoroughbred Rehoming, she provides an option for owners and trainers to bypass the sales.
“I originally got most of my horses from the sales, but now trainers and owners are sending them straight to me and other rehomers around the country,” Andriske said.
Andriske’s reputation has spread throughout Australia and abroad with one of her proudest moments being when the owners of New Zealand galloper Chance To Dance sent their horse across the Tasman for her to rehome when his racing career ended in 2019.
With her husband Gary, Andriske has funded and built a comprehensive complex in western Victoria where she provides a temporary home for her horses until new owners are found.
“Depending on the price of hay, I’ll have between 10 and 35 horses on our property,” she said.
Andriske was the runner-up in the Thoroughbred Care and Welfare category in 2018.
“It means so much to be recognised by an organisation like Godolphin and to know that all the organisers and sponsors support what everyone in this business is doing.”