Paying dividends off the track

Racing legends give back to the community in their retirement

Through their performances on the track, racehorses touch the hearts of millions, providing joy, excitement, and inspiration. Now, thanks to Melbourne based organisation Living Legends, retired champion racehorses continue their inspirational work in a whole new way, through daily interactions and learning opportunities for people of all ages and abilities.

Living Legends is a not-for-profit organization that was established in 2006 to nurture the deep connection between the community and racehorse champions; and promote life after racing for all horses.

Based at the Woodlands Historic Homestead in Greenvale, nestled in the surrounds of the extensive Woodlands Park, Living Legends provides the perfect setting for people of every age to mix and mingle, get up close and personal, and really come to know these former champions

Woodlands is one of the southern hemisphere’s most historic thoroughbred properties and home to over 30 legends of the turf. Winners of Australia’s major races including the Melbourne Cup, Cox Plate and Caulfield Cup reside there, and another five champions who between them share eight Hong Kong Jockey Club Horse of The Year awards.

Now that their racing days are behind them, Living Legends enables these horses to give back to the community and the equine industry in a multitude of ways. Living Legends CEO Dr Andrew Clarke says these horses still provide so much value.

“Our facility is open to the public every day, and we see firsthand just how much joy the horses bring to people of all ages. Visitors can pat the horses, feed them carrots, and spend time with them.

“Our visitors come from far and wide for all different reasons. We see mums with their children simply enjoying a day out; and we have people travel from across Australia and around the world to fulfill a wish to meet their favourite champion.”

Dr Clarke says pleasingly, the relationships go both ways, with the horses craving human interaction.

“These horses have spent their life with people and that need for human contact doesn’t go away in retirement

“Our horses are often spotted running to the fences to greet visitors. They love the opportunity to be patted, and that’s something our organisation has been able to provide them.”

Living Legends’ focus is more than the horses residing on site. The organisation advocates for a full and active life after racing for all horses, to promote best care and contribute to the generation of new knowledge for horses in their later years.

“As people age, their needs change and it’s the same for horses. We do a lot of work relating to geriatric care, from diet and exercise to dental care, and monitoring their internal health. There is a lot more to learn in all these specialty areas.

“We look for any opportunity to contribute to projects that advance the geriatric care of horses. Everything we learn and do here we share with the equine community, so horse owners everywhere can care for their horses properly into old age.”

Living Legends has become a leading organisation for education across all levels, from primary school through the tertiary education. The Learning with Legends program runs all year round, with Dr Clarke passionate about sharing knowledge.

“We have always been proud advocates for education, offering life-long learning opportunities. We host primary and secondary school group tours, to give students a taste of what equine care involves, along with the history and natural wonders of Woodlands.

“We also provide placement opportunities for tertiary students studying veterinary science and other disciplines that will lead them into a career in equine care.

“It’s us taking a role in ensuring future generations will continue to share the dedication we have for our horses.”

Part of the ongoing care of the horses is providing them with a full and active life after racing, and the Legends Under Saddle program presents exciting new avenues for horses and riders.

“We have had success retraining some of the younger Legends to be ridden and compete in events such as show

“Our Legends on the Road program, sponsored by Lexus, always receives such a wonderful response from the community. We visit race days and participate in special events such as the Melbourne Cup parade. We also arrange more personal encounters to schools, children’s hospitals and nursing homes, and it warms the heart to see the reactions people have to our champions.”

jumping. For the older ones, exercise can be a quiet ride in the surrounding parklands, or if riding is no longer an option, our horse walker provides the exercise they need.

“It’s marvellous to see community members and horses respond to these new opportunities to shine.”

While open to the public every day of the week, Living Legends regularly heads into the community touring, to further nurture the human / horse connection, and build relationships with other organisations.

“Our Legends on the Road program, sponsored by Lexus, always receives such a wonderful response from the community. We visit race days and participate in special events such as the Melbourne Cup parade. We also arrange more personal encounters to schools, children’s hospitals and nursing homes, and it warms the heart to see the reactions people have to our champions.”

In fact, it was through Legends on the Road that the relationship between Living Legends and The Asian Executive was first formed.

“We were lucky enough to attend The Asian Executive Melbourne Cup Carnival Charity Ball in 2016, with Hong Kong champion Silent Witness. He walked on the main stage in the Palladium and the crowd loved him. Photo opportunities for guests with Silent Witness lasted an hour longer than was planned. That’s the kind of reaction we get, and we love it.”

Now, nearly five years on, Dr Clarke is excited to be further cementing the connection with The Asian Executive through this year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival Charity Ball, to be held on Friday, 29 October at Crown Palladium.

“We feel privileged to be selected as the charity for 2021 event. As a not-for-profit organisation, we rely on support from the community to continue our valuable and unique work.

“We’re very much looking forward to working with The Asian Executive and CEO Richard Wong in the months to come to create a memorable night.”

The evening is still in the early planning stages, yet Dr Clarke says this year’s guest from Living Legends will be the 2000 Melbourne Cup winner, Brew.

“Brew loves an audience and I think it only fitting we bring him along to celebrate the 21st anniversary of his Melbourne Cup win.”

As the home of several Melbourne Cup and Spring Carnival winners, all at Living Legends are grateful for the support received from organisations involved in the annual event.

“We couldn’t do our work without our supporters. The Victorian Racing Club has been by our side since the beginning, and we have Lexus, the official Melbourne Cup sponsor, on board too. Now, we have the valuable contribution fromThe Asian Executive and its community.

“It’s thanks to these relationships that we are able to deliver one-of-a-kind experiences for people of all ages and abilities; supporting education and learning opportunities for the next generation; and ensuring the future of horses that touched the hearts of millions and became household names.”

Further information about Living Legends can be found at www. livinglegends.org.au and you can follow the organisation on Facebook and Instagram.