As a respected harness racing trainer and long-time supporter of life after racing, Kari Males has a good eye for a standardbred with potential both on and off the track.
“I think standardbreds are very underrated. They have the most easy, pleasant horses to deal with and a lot of them just love to work”, says Kari.
“They’re very brave and will give anything a go. You’ve got a friend for life when you’ve got a standardbred”.
With his gentle, willing nature, Turnpike Cruiser, known around the Males stables as ‘Cruise’, started adding to his pony club resume long before retirement.
“We got Cruise towards the end of his racing career”, Kari explains.
“Cruise has the most beautiful nature. He was just one of those horses that, wherever he’s been, everybody loves him.
“A few years ago we had pony club camp and decided that we needed to introduce a bit of harness racing. So, Cruise was pulled out of the paddock and he was the guinea pig.
“He just stood there whilst the kids tried to figure out where all of the pieces of gear went. They were putting gear on in all the wrong spots and he just stood there all day and was wonderful”.
Growing up around the stables with trainers for parents, Tana Males formed a love of horses early and a natural talent in the saddle.
“One day I just decided to jump on Cruise, as he’d been sitting in the paddock for a few years”, Tana says of her first experiences with her new riding partner.
“Cruise is a bit of a cheeky one under saddle, but he’s a hard horse not to love.
“He’s just such a cool character and nothing really ever phases him; he’s pretty perfect”.
In their time as a partnership, Tana and Cruise have attended pony club rallies, show jumping competitions and put on a dazzling display of their talents at the recent Megan Jones Eventing Clinic for Standardbreds, which was organised and subsidised by the Hero program.
Tana and Cruise’s dedication and ambition to train hard and work up through to the higher levels in eventing is inspiring to witness and has cemented their place as the newest Round 1 Hero Ambassadors.
“Tana’s passion for standardbreds and Cruise’s can-do attitude make them the perfect choice as Hero Ambassadors”, says Hero Operations Manager, Tara van der Minne.
“We’re excited to see what this talented pair can achieve, with the support of the entire Hero team behind them!”
The new Hero Ambassador Program sees contributions towards entry and other fees associated with attending equestrian competitions, public events, clinics and training days will be extended by HRV Hero to a selected team of Ambassadors.