From Railway winner to Paddock Pop

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Two-time Railway Stakes winner Luckygray has swapped the simplicity of one job for a varied career juggling the roles of model, celebrity, ambassador and nanny.

Ahead of The Pinnacles, he starred in an early morning photoshoot in the centre of Perth before graciously posing for selfies with fans at Ascot and taking the honour of leading out the field of runners for the 2022 Railway Stakes, then returning to his usual job as babysitter for the young horses at home.

Owner Beth Poletti calls the triple Group 1 race champion Brad for his Brad Pitt film star good looks. At home, he’s also known as Paddock Pop.

“He hates being stabled or in small yards so he spends his life with the babies,” she said.

“When he walks out of the paddock he looks back at them as if he’s saying: Behave. I’ll be back.”

Beth said Luckgray, now aged 15, was sound and well but the family considered his ongoing health and an earlier injury in deciding against a ridden career for him after racing.

“Even though he’s not ridden, there’s a job for him – and horses need a job to keep their minds active,” Beth said.

“He has a purpose with the weanling foals and their mums.”

Luckygray brings Perth city to a standstill ahead of the 2022 Railway Stakes with models Cameron Cranley and Khloe Hicks. Main picture, top: Beth with Luckygray at the city photoshoot

Luckgray is one of several horses to stay with Beth and her trainer husband Gino after racing. They now have various roles such as helping to teach young horses barrier training.

Many others have gone on to new homes and activities after racing including show jumping, eventing or adult riders.

“Rehoming is a big part of what we do,” she said.

“We always spell our horses after racing. They have eight weeks, then we bring them back in and spend a few weeks working with them before finding them a home.

“I have a policy that we’ll take them back if it doesn’t work out and I always deliver them to their new homes so I know where they are and check up on them regularly.

“Sometimes the people may be a good match but not the place where they’re going.”

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Beth said early education often identified the careers likely to suit each horse. The skills for safety in racing, such as learning to stop when asked and pay attention to their rider, are the same skills that make horses appealing in the wider equestrian world.

“Everything we do is to make them as safe as we can,” Beth said.

“We spend time in the arena and work on their education because we want each one to be a versatile horse.

“As part of that early training, we usually know what they’re likely to do when they finish racing.

“Some are show jumpers and others are destined for adult riders, where they’re good at lots of things but not brilliant at anything.”

In recent years, Beth has been pleased to follow the career of Bold Venture, who she pinpointed as a potential eventer from the start.

His race name was Hell on Wheels but he now competes at international level in eventing with rider Shenae Lowings.

“It’s really exciting but what Brad does is equally exciting,” she said.

Susan de Ruyter