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Catch A Crystal salutes off the track

Queensland’s Sarah Millard secured Harness Racing NSW’s Off The Track Series at the weekend.

With her partner in crime Catch A Crystal, the Warwick-based pair were adjudicated the overall winner of the 12-month series, which culminated in a Grand Final at Paceway Tamworth on Saturday evening.

“It’s a reward for all the work you do behind the scenes, and a reward for the standardbreds in general promoting the breed,” Millard said.

“I’ve had Crystal for a little over four years, and in that time we’ve built up a great relationship and won a lot of accolades.

“As a horse, she is a beautiful type and absolutely lovely to have around and can be ridden by almost any member of my family.”

Staged for a third occasion, the OTT Series promotes standardbreds as pleasure horses upon their retirement from their traditional role of harness racing.

In partnership with the Standardbred Pleasure and Performance Horse Association, a series of qualifying shows were held across NSW over the past 12 months, and for the first time was open for entrants from other states to take part.

Millard and ‘Crystal’ qualified as the reserve qualifier at the Tenterfield Show on February 8, before going on to take out the top gong on Saturday.  

This wasn’t the duo’s first taste of success, the partnership last year also took out the 2019 Queensland Standardbred Track To Hack Series.

Similar to the OTT Series, Track To Hack showcases the transition made from harness racing into show horse for standardbreds.

Millard has been a horsewoman all her life, however, it was only recently that she got involved in the showing side of the industry, demonstrating that standardbreds are more than just racers.

“My husband’s family raced horses for a lot of years, and I’ve been riding since I was 10 but I wasn’t really serious about showing or anything like that up until about five years ago and have been showing standardbreds since then,” Millard said.

“It’s so important (to have these series’) because it gives the owners the chance to showcase the breed and to change a few stigmas that are attached to the breed.

“It gives us all the opportunity to show what you can teach these standardbreds and that they are not just for racing.”