Life after racing

“Every Standardbred horse should be treated with respect, compassion and understanding and shall receive a standard of care which allows them to enjoy a good quality of life while in the racing industry and on retirement.”

Responsible re-homing of Standardbreds is an important issue for racing internationally.  Harness Racing New Zealand is committed to ensuring that as many of our retiring horses as possible are retrained and re-homed for second careers as sport or pleasure horses.

Standardbreds throughout New Zealand have successful careers after racing in many equestrian disciplines including showing, trekking, show jumping, endurance, competitive trail riding, cowboy challenge and eventing.

Harness Education & Rehoming Opportunities (HERO)

Harness Racing New Zealand is currently in the process of launching an exciting new initiative; Harness Education & Rehoming Opportunities (HERO). HERO was initially launched in July 2015 as a joint initiative of Harness Racing Victoria and the State Government via the Victorian Racing Industry Fund and Harness Racing New Zealand are proud to be joining this venture. HERO promotes life after racing options for retired Standardbreds, with an emphasis on developing positive pathways for horses exiting the competitive environment and encouraging industry participants to factor retirement into their day to day welfare programs.

Horses are selected for HERO based on the following criteria in line with our Australian counterpart.

  • 4-12 years of age
  • Sound
  • Good conformation
  • Good temperament
  • Recently retired from facing

These horses are then placed with a HERO educator. They will begin the process of a thorough education including ground and ridden work. HERO horses will be schooled to a high level and will be participating in a range of different disciplines to highlight their versatility.

Upon completion of their education the HERO horse will then be offered for sale with all proceeds returning to the HERO programme.

We are a part of a fantastic industry where life after racing is a priority. We have many current re-homer’s doing a brilliant job with our off the track racehorses .Our aim at HERO is to raise awareness of the unharnessed potential of the standardbred horse as both a pleasure and competitive mount. Our intention is to SHOWCASE the breed and we look forward to working alongside other industry participants.

Horses entered in the HERO programme will be deregistered from racing and registered as a hack only.


Harness Racing New Zealand sponsor a number of events to promote the Standardbred as a leisure and competition horse after racing including:

Anything but Standard Challenge

The Anything But Standard Challenge is a life after racing venture launched in 2017. The vision for this Challenge is to promote the versatility and suitability of the Standardbred as a pleasure and sport horse once their racing career has finished which is beneficial for the racing industry.

The Anything But Standard Challenge is open to any branded Standardbred that is unbroken to saddle as of the 1st of February of the competition year with the Challenge being held in either November or December.

The Challenge consists of 5 individual Challenges; Inhand Showing, Ridden Showing, Dressage, Show Hunter, and Obstacle Course and points gained across each section are combined to name the Overall Challenge winner. Competitors may enter as many or as few sections as they like but only those entered in all sections are eligible for the Overall.

This year’s competition was expanded to provide all standardbreds the opportunity to compete. The Anything But Standard Challenge now contains 3 different ratings of horses. The Anything but Standard Challenge for Standardbreds broken to saddle from the 1st of February the previous season, the Raising the Standards Challenge for any Standardbred that holds a Novice showing status regardless of when it was broken in to saddle and the Setting the Standards Challenge for those Standardbreds holding an open show status regardless of when they were broken to saddle.

2020 Results

The Anything but Standard Challenge- South Island

Overall sponsored by Dunstan

1st - Bex Glass & Bonnie Doon

2nd - Anna Hynes & Dundee Lady

3rd - Kelly Clapperton & Irish Moss

4th - Brianna Roxborough & Betty Jones

5th - Fiona Helm & Rangataua Ray

6th - Caitlin Hopkinson & Blazin Creek


Raising the Standard Challenge- South Island

Overall sponsored by HRNZ

1st - Juliana Sargent & Return Journey

2nd - Kat Gardiner & Jonny Be Goode

3rd - Maree McNally & Avenel's Dash Atom

4th - Amy Anderson & Rico Gold

5th - Fiona Helm & Dali Bread

6th - Rena Johnson & Laila Franco


The Anything but Standard Challenge- North Island

Overall sponsored by Dunstan Horse Feeds

1st - Natasha Collins & Russian Alsu

2nd - Jo Stevens & Signseeldeliver

3rd - Catherine Pemberton & Realmein

4th - Sylvie Webby & Barefoot Barbie

5th - Holly Barribal & Desert Prince

6th - Renee Hooker & Delightful Zen


Raising the Standard Challenge- North Island

Overall sponsored by Lincoln Farm

1st - Danni Silich & Show A Heart

2nd - Monique Bradley & Chiltons Vocation

3rd - Annalise Bennett & Viking Ruler

4th - Leigh Taylor & Lasvegasherewecome

5th - Veronica Moore & Jet Banner

6th - Bella Jackson & On The Razzle


The South Island Premier Show

This equestrian event provides a platform for top breeders, along with horse, pony and rider combinations from around New Zealand to showcase their talents and compete for championships and title class awards. There is a specific Standardbred section that has become highly competitive.


Photo competitions

Harness Racing New Zealand in conjunction with Dunstan Feeds introduced the inaugural Standardbred Photo Competition at Goldfields Cavalcade - Riding Trails Event. This initiative called on participants to take imaginative photos of them and their Standardbred enjoying the Cavalcade. The Competition has now run for two years and it was fantastic to see so many Standardbreds enjoying their life after racing.
The latest winner (2020) was Jane Orr and Peanut (pictured below).


Horse of the Year

There is a strong contingent of Standardbreds that compete annually at Horse of the Year. This is the crème de le crème of New Zealand’s premier equestrian competition, featuring a range of horse and rider combinations from multiple disciplines. With over 1,600 riders and 1,800 horses competing for lucrative titles and prize money, the show is a feature on all equestrian calendars.

2020 Inhand Standardbred of the Year

Eagles Nest - Brad Hamilton

Runner up

Piece Of Cake - Anna Gale


2020 Ridden Standardbred of the Year

Piece Of Cake - Anna Gale

Runner up

Macklemore- Shannon Armour


Assistance to rehomers

Outside of the HERO scheme, Harness Racing New Zealand works alongside other rehomers to support the retraining and rehoming of standardbreds when they retire from racing.

These rehomers include: Stable to Stirrup Charitable Trust


Life after racing articles

New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Association


Harness Racing New Zealand will:

  1. Develop and launch the HERO programme
  2. Amend the Rules of Racing to create a duty of care on rehoming Standardbreds after they retire from racing or breeding
  3. Provide support for initiatives that showcase the versatility of Standardbreds
  4. Support objective research that identifies why horses do not start racing, or leave racing and breeding
  5. Support objective research that identifies the activities that retrained horses participate in