Day At The Track

Life After Racing - Piece Of Cake

04:45 PM 07 Feb 2018 NZDT
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Four-year-old pacing mare, Piece Of Cake, may not have won a race but she is a very strong chance of winning the title of Horse of the Year.

That is of course at the annual Horse of the Year event in the Hawke’s Bay this March, New Zealand’s premier equestrian event.

A daughter of Major In Art and five win mare Ice The Cake, she was prepared for her race day assignments by Gavin Smith in Canterbury. However last January after just three starts she was retired from racing and advertised on a Standardbred rehoming page on Facebook.

This is where owner, Kristy King-Turner, embarked on brand new showing campaign with the Standardbred breed.

“I was looking for a Standardbred to produce for shows as a new challenge,” explained King-Turner.  “I had not owned Standardbreds before but I had worked as a trek guide a long time ago where they were used, and they all seemed very calm and trainable. I was really drawn to Piece Of Cake’s conformation.”

Just two weeks after Piece Of Cake had her last race she was entered at the Nelson Breeders show, where remarkably she collected the prize for Champion Standardbred.

The dominance would continue with Piece Of Cake as she took titles at various shows over a busy show circuit.

Picking up ribbons for; Champion Ridden Novice, Champion Open Ridden and Champion In Hand at the Rangiora Show; Champion Novice and Open Ridden and Reserved Champion Paced and Mannered at the Canterbury Show; Champion Ridden and In Hand at the South Island Premiers and Supreme In Hand at the New Zealand Standardbred Riding Association Open Show.

Piece Of Cake has had a first or second in every open hack class she has competed in, and collected six rugs and eight trophies already this season. An outstanding effort, especially so early in her showing career. 

Tamara Muirson had never ridden a Standardbred before riding Piece Of Cake, and is a regular rider for King-Turner on the show circuit.

“I have ridden quite a few horses for Kristy ranging from ring ponies to giant saddle hunters, so this was a new challenge,” said Muirson. “The hardest part has been retraining her movement. The first thing I taught her was to leg yield (a lateral movement that teaches the horse to move forward and sideways at the same time) and get her moving her body around the leg.”

“Most people have been quite impressed with her being able to come out in her first season under saddle and come home with so many Championships. Quite a few of my friends have been shocked that I’ve been riding a Standardbred and then they see Ice and they all comment on how nicely put together she is,” Muirson explained.

King-Turner and Muirson are now busy preparing Piece Of Cake for what will be her biggest test on New Zealand’s biggest equestrian stage.

“She is going to Horse of the Year in March to do the Ridden and In Hand Standardbred class and also an In Hand Hack Class. After that she may be sold as we were only ever going to produce her for one year as I have other youngsters now to bring in,” said King-Turner. “She is starting jumping more now, we haven’t done a lot of it because of her age but she really enjoys it. If she doesn’t sell I won’t mind keeping her as she is so easy to work with and has a huge future ahead of her in showing, probably jumping as well, and will also be a very good broodmare in future.”

Muirson will use the lead in time to school the mare and keep improving her movement and her way of going before Horse of the Year.

When it comes to promoting the Standardbred breed as a show prospect to others in the show world, the recommendations are glowing.

“I would recommend to others to have a go at showing a Standardbred. There are lot more opportunities for them than I realized and there are classes at most shows. The ring is usually very well supported,” said King-Turner.

“After riding Ice I have a new appreciation for the breed. They are so versatile and very willing to learn. There is still some prejudice against them which is a shame because there are some really nice ones out there and with the correct schooling can hold their own in any discipline,” said Muirson. “I’d recommend that people not only taken them on for showing, but for other disciplines as well. I’ve seen a few with super jumping techniques.”

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