Giuditta Crisci setting new standard for QOTT Program

There isn’t much Giuditta Crisci can’t handle after years of working as a retrainer but it was a moment at the 2022 Queensland Harness Awards that left her a tad speechless.

Giuditta was crowned the inaugural Queensland Off-The-Track (QOTT) Retrainer of the Year at February’s presentation ceremony, and is still processing the victory.

“I think I’m still in a little bit of shock!” Giuditta said.

“I was operating self-funded and relying on working two jobs around the clock to provide proper care for the horses before the QOTT Program kicked in.

“I always saw the HRV Hero program and things like that in Victoria and thought that would be really great to see that in Queensland.

“To be able to come and apply to be a retrainer and to win that first award is still a bit of a shock really.

“My co-nominee Amanda Chant was definitely tough competition as she also does a brilliant job and always turns her horses out beautifully.”

Giuditta started retraining and rehoming standardbreds in 2012, and was one of the first retrainers inducted when the QOTT Program kicked off in January 2022.

Based in Churchable and with 10 horses in her care, she’s passionate about the aftercare of standardbreds.

Giuditta Crisci (left) with RQ Senior Animal Care Manager Kim Duffy.

“I purchased my first standardbred (Kabelha Gold) as a personal riding horse in 2011 and totally fell in love with the breed,” Giuditta said.

“I then adopted a second standardbred and purchased my first fresh OTT standardbred in 2012 – I had done a lot of research on retraining off the track horses and wanted to start one myself.

“I realised that there wasn’t a huge number of options for them after retirement and I quickly filled my paddocks with retired racehorses that had stayed with their trainers waiting for a new home and career.

“The vast majority of standardbreds are well-rounded, versatile, trustworthy and highly trainable.

“More often than not they are sane, sound bodied, hardy and hardworking.

“They come in all shapes, sizes and types and I think with the right retraining there’s one to suit every rider!”

While she’s rehomed over 180 horses since starting as a retrainer, Giuditta’s first love is still her inaugural standardbred Kabelha Gold.

The chestnut gelding out of Fake Left and Kabelha Lass posted 29 wins and 48 placings from 236 starts in a career stretching the length of Queensland, from the Gold Coast all the way up to Townsville.

“Our first competition together was a combination of a hack ring, dressage test, show jumping round and obstacle course,” Giuditta said.

“This was a great opportunity to show off the versatility of the breed, with Kabelha Gold winning his dressage test and placed in all other events running second overall.

Ditta is based in Churchable and has 10 horses in her care.

“This was a big win for the breed at the time, holding his own against a variety of other breeds, and for a horse that wasn’t a bad racehorse either.

“He turned out to be the most willing and versatile horse I had ever worked with, racing until he was 10 years old and transitioning to ridden work seamlessly – there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t try for me from dressage and show jumping to working cows.

“He is now 26 years old and still looks fantastic.”

While Giuditta and Amanda Chant are the only two QOTT Acknowledged Retrainers specialising in standardbreds, Giuditta is hoping to see more retrainers come on board.

“Obviously we get a little bit flooded, I’m sure Amanda’s the same way – we have to ask the trainers will they spell them for us, while we rehome a couple first and things like that so some more standardbred retrainers would be really great,” she said.

“It was really important partnering with Racing Queensland – with the affiliation comes an official process and there’s a central location where racing owners and trainers can go to find us to retire their horses.

“They know we’ve been through a rigorous application process and we’ve been vetted quite thoroughly.

“The Subsidised Lessons Program is a great initiative also to reassure new owners they will have experienced and qualified guidance with their OTT horse after purchase.”

By Andrew Smith