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ROYAL ASCOT RACEHORSE TO PARADRESSAGE CHAMPION | How to retrain off track thoroughbreds: TB Makeover

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A former Royal Ascot winning thoroughbred has been transformed into a successful para-dressage horse under the tutelage of horse rider Julie Frizzell, who competes at international level.

Namibian, who comes from the Godolphin horseracing team founded by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai, won the 2011 running of the Queen’s Vase at the Royal meeting.

Julie was introduced to the eight-year-old gelding through the Godolphin Rehoming Centre, Newmarket, and barely a year after starting his new career, Namibian qualified for the Para-Dressage Winter Championships.
Julie, who served in the RAF for twenty years splits her time between leadership and management consultancy work and running Dressage Coaching UK, which specialises in providing a professional level of coaching to those who ride for pleasure, and has always been passionate about horses.

She grew up in a mining village, where her mother took a second job so that she could start riding lessons when she was seven years old.

During her time with the RAF, where she rose to the rank of Wing Commander before retiring on medical grounds, Julie competed in many eventing and showjumping contests.

It was while riding at the Defence Animal Centre that her wrist was crushed in a fall. Subsequent surgery failed to repair the damage and in 2012 her ulna, the main forearm bone, was removed altogether.

She now rides with a thermoplastic cast to keep her hand in place and was encouraged to apply for para-grading, which resulted in her being ranked grade four at the end of 2013.

Two years later when her long-standing dressage mount Crazy Diamond was approaching retirement, Julie decided to look for a replacement and was recommended to try the Godolphin Rehoming Centre.

“These horses have given Godolphin their lives and they want to return that – and that ethos really struck a chord with me. One of the programme riders rode Namibian first and then I got on. He felt green, wobbly and young and when I asked for a canter he had a right Royal buck and squeal. But importantly, I never felt unsafe and soon it became clear he loves his work."

Namibian shares both the same sire and place of birth as the Derby and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Golden Horn, being a son of Cape Cross.
A progressive three-year-old in 2011 when trained in Middleham by Mark Johnston, Namibian followed up his victory at Royal Ascot with the defeat of the subsequent Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente at Glorious Goodwood.

However, a bout of colic and another setback led to two years off the track and then an unsuccessful spell hurdling, after which he was moved to Newmarket to begin his retraining.


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