Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2024

Aussie OTTB Holds His Own In International Show Jumping



These days, warmbloods rule the international show jumping ring all over the world, but off-track Thoroughbred Laurel Glen Lucky Time is competing at the top level with his owner and rider Nelson Smyth in Australia.

The two made their CSI debut at the Adelaide Royal Show in late 2018, and Smyth is looking forward to more FEI World Cup qualifying classes this year with the 11-year-old gelding (Bradbury’s Luck—Magical Profit, High Yield).

Smyth, 26, grew up retraining Thoroughbreds since his father, Kerrod Smyth, trained them for 30 years.

“Lucky,” or Kilwinning Luck as he was known at the track, came to the Smyth family’s Laurel Glen Equestrian Centre in Queensland, Australia, in 2013 after retiring from racing.


Nelson Smyth and OTTB Laurel Glen Lucky Time are jumping at the highest level of show jumping in Australia. LMG Photographics Photo

Nelson was working full time as an electrician, so he started riding Lucky when he had time. The Smyth family uses free jumping for all Thoroughbreds that come to them to determine whether they’ll make good sport horses.

“I free jumped him, and to this day he’s probably the nicest horse we’ve ever free jumped,” said Nelson. “He showed a lot of potential.”


Lucky was a “typical Thoroughbred” to start with, and he had a sensitive mouth and an athletic, but playful, buck. The pair went to their first show at 1.0 meters in February 2014, and it’s been all uphill from there.

“I never really thought he was going to be a World Cup horse when I started him,” said Nelson. “He was just a nice horse. He could jump really well, but through the years he never sold. I put him up for sale a few times because I sell everything of mine. Every year I’d jump a bit higher, and he just kept trying for me. He’s so brave. This time last year, I said to myself, ‘I think I might start the World Cup [classes] in 12 months’ time.’ ”

Watch Nelson and Lucky jump a 1.45-meter course in December.

Lucky is a sweet horse according to Nelson, but he does have a quirky personality. “He’s a bit of a character,” he said. “He has his own little personality and the way he likes things done on the ground, and as long as you’re doing that he’s happy to oblige.”

Nelson said that Thoroughbreds were more common at the upper levels of show jumping in Australia 10 or 15 years ago.


“He has his own style,” Nelson said of Lucky. “He can be a little bit sensitive to ride to a fence sometimes, and he does a funny canter where sometimes it’s a tranter! It’s not as conventional as most. He’s probably not the scopiest horse in the class, but he definitely has the biggest heart.”

This story appeared in the Jan. 14 & 21, 2019 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse. 

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