Sunday, May 25, 2014

About Me

My name is Ashleigh Hughes. I am based at Turffontein Racecourse, in Johannesburg, South Africa, where I an Assistant Trainer for Snaith Racing, and run their Johannesburg satelite yard. I have worked in the racing industry since 1993, for trainers like Tobie Spies, Michael Airey, St John Gray, Weiho Marwing and Gary Alexander. I briefly had my own Trainer's Licence from 2002-2004, but I decided to rejoin the Alexander yard. From 2006-2011 to took a bit of sabbatical from the racing industry, and worked at Leo Baxter's Stonefield Polo Estate, where I was exposed to yet another one of South Africa's equine sports. In 2011, I once again rejoined the Alexander yard, and I have remained in the industry since then.
I have come to appreciate and admire the versatility of the Thoroughbred, and I have been a huge fan of this intelligent, willing and athletic breed for over 3 decades. I have seen how easy it is to retrain them to be competitive in another sport, and once again thrive and give their all in a new vocation.
Unfortunately they have developed a rather unfortunate reputation for being difficult, unsound, "drug addicts", riddled with gastric ulcers and too hot to ride. Most of these are myths perpetuated by the anti-racing lobbyists.
I have made it my personal mission to debunk these myths and show just how amazing these Thoroughbreds can be. That they not only can be retrained in other equine pursuits, but can excell and  beat the more fashionable Warmblood breeds, in most of these sports.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Where can I look up my horse's pedigree?

There are two main databases that cover South African racehorses.  is a widely used pedigree resource. It does require a monthly subscription for the full female line (ie. What you would see in a sales catalogue), but you will still be able to find a 6 generation pedigree (family tree) as a casual user.  is an American based database, and goes back 5 generations. However, if your horse was unraced, it may not show up on this site.

Where can I get photos of my horse when he was still racing?

There are official photographers at each racecourse, and they take photos of every single winning horse. Unfortunately the sheer number of horses that run makes it impossible to take photos of non-winners. Some of the photographers may still have negatives of winners, from the pre-digital days, but the older the horse is, the less likely you will be able to source photos of him, even if he won a race or two.
**YOU need to do the research about his racing career, and find out any details of he won a race/s**
You will need the horse's full racing name, the date he won, the racecourse where he won, and having the class of race and race number will be a big help too. The Photographers won't find this out for you.
***I need to point out that all photos remain the property of the photographers, and are subject to copyright laws, here in South Africa, unless you have purchased and PAID for them. These photos are  their livelihood, and you are effectively stealing from them if you use the photos without permission. Legal action can be taken by any of photographers, so please be responsible and fair in this regard.***

1) In Gauteng, for Turffontein, Vaal, and the former courses, Newmarket and Gosforth Park, JC Photographics are the people to contact. They also cover the Kimberley racecourse, Flamingo Park. They can be contacted via email:

2) For KZN racecourses, Scottsville, Greyville and Clairwood Park, you can check on the Gold Circle website for photos.
If you would like to order photos, Anita Akal would be the person to contact on (031)564 6550.

3) For the Western Cape, for Kenilworth and Durbanville photos, you can get in touch with Equine Edge Photography: 

4) For the Eastern Cape, Fairview Racecourse, the person to contact is Pauline Herman:

Where can I find my horse's racing record?

There are a few good websites that have this information:  is one of the easiest to navigate and does not require a subscription. The only drawback here is that its database only covers fairly recent results. So if you have an older OTTB, it may only have limited information about your horse.  is another fantastic South African racing website. It does require a monthly subscription however, so its not so easy for a casual user to get information from.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Showcasing Ex-Racehorses In Their New Careers

For decades, here in South Africa, we have taken ex-racehorses into new competitive careers. They have excelled in many different sports, like Eventing, Show Jumping, Dressage, Showing, Equitation, Polo and Polo Crosse. Every day we discover just how versatile, willing, intelligent and athletic these Thoroughbreds are. They are often referred to as Off the Track Thoroughbreds, or OTTBs, and I will be using that term throughout my posts. I will be interviewing riders and trainers/ instructors from all levels of the sports where these OTTBs have excelled, and share their stories with you. I will also share photos of famous stallions that have produced whole dynasties of competitive South African OTTBs, from time to time.

What makes ReTrain-WinAgain different from all the other projects and groups dedicated to Ex-Racehorses/ OTTBs? I am a racing industry insider, and that viewpoint is what makes it unique!

Pictured here is Tommy Hotspur (Chestnut Gelding 1991) by Harry Hotspur, out of Tabitha Twitchet (by Brer Rabbit). He is owned by the author, and is now fully retired.

Read more about him on his Facebook Page: