The Thoroughbred Makeover is the world’s largest and most lucrative retraining competition for ex-racehorses, awarding over $100,000 in prize money annually since 2015. The Makeover returns to its single-year format in 2022 after the postponement of the 2020 event led to a “double” Makeover in 2021, with two competition years running simultaneously. The 2022 Makeover will take place on October 12-15, 2022 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
Open to professionals, juniors, amateurs, and teams, the Thoroughbred Makeover is a retraining competition for recently-retired ex-racehorses. Competition is available in ten disciplines, with trainers choosing to compete in up to two: barrel racing, competitive trail, dressage, eventing, field hunter, polo, ranch work, show hunter, show jumper, and freestyle (a free-form discipline to demonstrate skills of the trainer’s choice).
All horses compete in preliminary rounds in their respective disciplines, with the top five in each discipline returning for the Finale Championship on Saturday to determine final placings. A panel including all discipline judges will determine the overall Thoroughbred Makeover Champion and a $10,000 cash prize; a popular vote by in-person and online spectators will determine the People’s Choice Award who wins the right to direct a donation to an equine charity of their choosing.
2020 Thoroughbred Makeover Champion Thunderous Affair, trained by Lindsey Partridge
2021 Thoroughbred Makeover Champion Forthegreatergood, trained by Laura Sloan
“TCA has been a supporter of the Makeover since the beginning because we believe strongly in the mission of the RRP,” said Erin Halliwell, executive director of TCA. “The RRP and its programming have made a positive impact on the lives of thousands of Thoroughbreds over the years. We congratulate the trainers accepted into the 2022 Makeover and appreciate your dedication to Thoroughbreds.”
Accepted trainers are encouraged to register their horses at TBMakeover.org as soon as they acquire them; horse registration closes on July 29, 2022. As horses are registered, they will appear on the entry list at tbmakeover.org/entries-2022. Trainers have signed up to bring a total of 505 horses.
The application process for the 2022 Thoroughbred Makeover required trainers to complete a “horseman’s resume” that detailed their training and competition experience and included riding video, allowing the application committee the best possible look at applicants’ experience levels and their ability to bring along a recently-retired Thoroughbred and compete at a large venue with a big environment. Applicants also furnished letters from their veterinarians stating that they have the necessary skills and knowledge to appropriately care for a horse transitioning off the track.
The Makeover has historically attracted a broad cross-section of the horse industry, represented by junior, amateur and professional equestrians, as well as teams (allowing families, stables, or collegiate teams the opportunity to prepare a horse together). The great equalizer at the Makeover are the horses: eligible Thoroughbreds competing in 2022 will all come from similar backgrounds, with no more than 10 months of retraining for a second career and all having raced or trained to race within the past two years.
This format allows all trainers to all categories to compete side-by-side on equal footing. Juniors, amateurs and teams routinely enjoy great success at the Makeover and have earned top-five finishes; the 2017 Thoroughbred Makeover Champion Old Tavern was trained by junior Charlie Caldwell.
With the uncertainty of training green horses, the length of time between acceptance of trainers and final entry, and the fact that some horses sell before the Makeover, the RRP is once again offering a waitlist. Individuals who missed the initial round of applications are welcome to apply to the waitlist and can do so at TBMakeover.org/trainer-portal. The waitlist does not guarantee final entry into the competition, but does widen the impact of the Makeover and helps more horses transition to second careers.
New for 2022, the Makeover will also play host to The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program (T.I.P.) Western Championships and Central Region Dressage Championships. After a successful implementation of the inaugural T.I.P. Barrel Racing Championships in 2021, the RRP and T.I.P. are expanding on their working relationship to add more opportunities for Thoroughbreds and Thoroughbred enthusiasts to make the most of the week at the Kentucky Horse Park.
For riders seeking a well-started off-track Thoroughbred for competition or pleasure, the ASPCA Makeover Marketplace will return in 2022, offering buyers and adopters the unique opportunity to watch a horse compete, trial ride, and complete a pre-purchase exam all in one location. New for 2022, the Makeover will offer the ASPCA Future Prospects barn, including recently-retired Thoroughbreds available for adoption from participating aftercare organizations.
“Although we’re back to our ‘normal’ Makeover schedule at the Kentucky Horse Park in October, we’re pleased to expand other aspects of the event to reach more Thoroughbred lovers and serve a broader portion of the aftercare industry,” said RRP executive director, Kirsten Green. “Hosting additional T.I.P. Championship classes and the pilot year of the ASPCA Makeover Marketplace Future Prospects barn is broadening the scope of the Thoroughbred Makeover and making it a true cornerstone event for Thoroughbred enthusiasts.”
The Makeover also provides ample opportunities for education for both trainers and the public, including the Thoroughbred Aftercare Summit, the seminar series, and the Makeover Master Class (a retraining demonstration featuring three trainers with their own unique approaches to initial training sessions with recently-retired Thoroughbreds). A vendor fair provides plenty of shopping opportunities for attendees as well.
The Thoroughbred Makeover is the flagship event for the RRP, a 501(c)(3) non-profit committed to increasing the demand and value of Thoroughbreds in their careers after racing. Sponsorship opportunities are available for the 2022 Thoroughbred Makeover: contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Thoroughbred Makeover fast facts:
- The 2022 competition is open to any Thoroughbred that raced or had a published work after July 1, 2020 and did not start retraining for a second career before December 1, 2021
- Trainers indicate their primary discipline(s) of expertise on their applications, but are free to change disciplines as the competition approaches and they learn their horses’ strengths. A horse can compete in up to two disciplines, and a trainers can compete a maximum of three horses
- Trainers do not need to have obtained the horse they intend to compete at the time of application. Horses can be registered through July 31
- Participation in the Thoroughbred Makeover Marketplace sale is entirely voluntary, but many trainers take advantage of the extra exposure to market their horses. All sales are private contracts between individual trainers and buyers; the RRP is not involved and receives no commissions