Finalists – Thoroughbred Care & Welfare Award
17 May, 2021
In an area of the industry that is as sensitive as it is essential, Jade Willis and Jordan Priest fill roles that deserve as much praise and support as there is available.
Jade and Jordan, the finalists in the Thoroughbred Care and Welfare category of the Stud and Stable Staff Awards, give their time, money, and boundless energy to providing new lives for former racehorses.
And in an area that figures prominently in the vision of Godolphin’s founder, Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum, they continue a tradition of selfless devotion.
Jade began her association with racing in New Zealand when given a horse to retrain, a move that ignited a passion for giving old thoroughbreds new homes.
It is a quest that enabled her to rehome 122 thoroughbreds in the past 12 months.
Willis founded JW Equestrian, an initiative formed two years ago that is aimed at finding alternative, loving homes and occupations for retired racehorses.
As well as re-training “off-track” thoroughbreds, and finding them new owners, Willis instructs their new 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 says.
“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.
Jade’s 2021 SSSA nomination is her second and is regarded as a sign of faith in her work.
“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.”
Like her fellow finalist, Jordan Priest has entered the rehoming business with the most honourable intentions of not simply finding new homes for ex-racehorses, but to find them the best, most suitable new owners.
“I get to know my horses as well as I can, the challenge can be to then find them the humans that suit them best,” Jordan says.
Jordan has rehomed 25 horses this year, and again like her fellow finalist, she has started a riding school, the Darling Downs Riding Centre, an initiative that fits closely with the rehoming side of the business.
Jordan’s nominator Angus McAlpine of Eureka Stud praises her professionalism as “second to none”.
“Jordan genuinely loves all the retired racehorses that come into her stables and she spends a lot of time and energy promoting retired racehorses and the good they can do in their next life,” McAlpine said.
“She regularly guides people at the sales about what they can do if their horse is too slow.”
A string of “problem” horses and others who have been injured have been rehomed by Jordan who proudly tells how one of her “graduates” is now a mount in Thailand’s Royal Guard.
Priest, who also works at McAlpine’s Eureka Stud began her involvement in racing in stables and leading horses in the sale ring at Magic Millions for Evergreen Stud.
She would like to create more awareness in the racing and bloodstock industry of after-racing care and rehoming of racehorses.
“I do it as a bit of a love job, but there really isn’t money to be made from retraining and selling retired racehorses once you add up all the hours spent doing it properly.
“I think we are already on the right path to improvements, but I would love for everybody to care where the horses go when they have retired.”