Tuthill taking on new training challenge

Former New Zealand eventer Annabel Tuthill is looking forward to kicking off her thoroughbred training career. Photo: Supplied

Former New Zealand eventer Annabel Tuthill has added another string to her equine bow by taking out her thoroughbred trainer’s license.

Tuthill competed at the highest level in eventing, competing at the Badminton and Burghley horse trials in the United Kingdom, and was named as reserve for New Zealand’s three-day eventing team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, with fellow team member Mark Todd also now carving out a career in thoroughbred racing.

“I was eventing here (New Zealand) and had some success and then went over to the UK for quite a while to aim for the Beijing Olympics, and I was named in the team as a reserve,” Tuthill said.

“I competed at Badminton and Burghley quite a bit over there, which was an amazing experience. I rode some really nice thoroughbreds along the way, they were always my favourite.”

While in the United Kingdom, Tuthill met her now husband Olly, who also competed at the highest level in his chosen equine pursuit – polo.

“Olly played polo in New Zealand and England, and he played for England. He was a professional over there and then we decided to move back to New Zealand and set-up Beaufort Downs, have a family and settle down,” she said.

Beaufort Downs is a boutique thoroughbred breeding nursery set on 100 acres in North Canterbury.

The couple have spent the last few years establishing their broodmare band and have featured prominently as vendors at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale.

Their highest profile graduate to date has been So Dazzling, who was purchased for $200,000 out of their 2021 Book 1 draft and went on to finish runner-up in the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) for trainer John Sargent.

“It was cool when she was favourite for the Oaks, that was an exciting time, and she came second to Pennyweka,” Tuthill said.

While she has been kept busy running Beaufort Downs with her husband, alongside raising their three children, training thoroughbreds has always been an itch Tuthill has wanted to scratch, and she is excited to have now taken on that challenge.

Group 2 performer Milford Sound, who was bred by the Tuthills under their Beaufort Downs banner, has returned to her care for the twilight of his career.

The six-year-old son of Ocean Park was initially in the care of Riccarton trainer Andrew Carston, for whom he had a pleasing three-year-old season, finishing runner-up in the Group 3 Manawatu Classic (2000m) and Listed Southland Guineas (1600m), and third in the Group 2 Championship Stakes (2100m).

He has failed to replicate those deeds in subsequent seasons, including a stint across the Tasman, and Tuthill believes he is the perfect horse to help kick-off her training career.

“I would like to train a nice filly that we have bred, that would be my main goal,” Tuthill said.

“Mum and Dad’s horse, Milford Sound, came along and he is towards the end of his career, so it was quite a good opportunity for me to have a go and use him for learning experience.

“We bred him and then Andrew Carston did a really good job with him. He did well as a three-year-old. He went over to Australia but unfortunately he had a problem with his wind and has had two wind operations now.

“He has got to be managed nowadays and he is a good horse that has been there and done that, that I can have a go with without too much pressure.”

Tuthill said she has received some great advice and support from a number of trainers.

“Everyone has been super helpful,” she said.

“We have got a good relationship with Anna Furlong, Andrew Carston, and Kayla Milnes. Kayla in particular has helped me out a lot at the track and the beach.

“We also went up to Cambridge and stayed with Roger James and Robert Wellwood. They were amazingly helpful.”

Tuthill is taking a patient approach with Milford Sound, who last raced when fourth in the Greymouth Cup (2000m) in January.

She gave the gelding a 1200m hit-out at the Ashburton trials on Tuesday and she said he will benefit from the rain-affected tracks over winter.

“I will just see how he comes through yesterday and then make a plan about what we are going to do in the next few weeks,” she said.

“He quite likes the wet tracks, so I am waiting for the rain, it has been really dry down here.”

Tuthill is enjoying training in a new discipline and said it is quite different to training eventers.

“With eventing, we have to get them super fit, and it is more endurance compared to racing,” she said.

“Olly is always in my ear telling me not to overdo it. It is a big learning curve.”

While looking forward to kicking off her training career, Tuthill said they are kept busy at their farm and don’t have any ambitions of taking on client horses at this stage.

“We are really busy with the farm and have three little kids, so it is a real juggling act,” she said.

“We are up to around 15 mares. We are loving it, it is awesome. Hopefully we are going over to Magics (Magic Millions broodmare sale) to get another one. We are always trying to improve the broodmare band.

“It is a real team effort and we have got a really good team here, and at this stage, we are doing it (training) for ourselves.”

While Milford Sound is the only racehorse Tuthill has in work at the moment, he is being kept company by retired Group 1 performer Vernanme, who is enjoying life after racing.

“I am working Vernanme, who belongs to Jasmine Casey, Kevin Hickman’s daughter, which is quite fun,” Tuthill said.

“Jasmine is just wanting to find him the best home possible. We have had him here since he retired from racing. I am just doing a bit of schooling with him to get him ready. He is really lovely.”

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