03/16/2017 1:56PM

Beyond the Wire: Churchita adapts nicely to new discipline

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The unraced mare Churchita, with her owner and trainer, Ashley Gubich, earned honors as “Colorado’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred” last Saturday at the competition designed to showcase the trainability and versatility of local off-the-track Thoroughbreds.

The competition, now in its third year, is held during the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo at the National Western Complex in Denver and is presented by the Retired Racehorse Project, Arapahoe Park and Mile High Racing, and the Colorado chapter of the Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses (CANTER).

Gubich, who operates Super G Sporthorses in Parker, Colo., found Churchita, an unraced, Texas-bred daughter of Churchhill, through CANTER Texas. The well-matched pair has been training together for three years, but in the weeks leading up to last week’s competition, their participation was in doubt after Churchita had a reaction to being treated with antibiotics and Gubich came down with the flu. Despite losing about two weeks of riding time prior to the competition, the pair persisted – and prevailed.

“There was a lot of back and forth as to whether we were going to compete or not,” Gubich said. “I [hadn’t] even ridden her in over two weeks. I decided to do what Chita and I do best – just wing it!”

Churchita first impressed the crowd by jumping a course of fences without a bridle. Then, to demonstrate how well tempered the mare is, Gubich got off and let two novice riders mount up in succession – Arapahoe Park announcer Jonathan Horowitz and Gubich’s 3-year-old son, Chase.

“I could not be more proud of my girl,” Gubich said. “And to think just the day before I was still considering not competing. This girl is all heart and [at the competition] even had a little extra fire.” Other participants in the Colorado’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred competition included Royal Mr. G, who has not just had one second career but a few. The gelding went from his ontrack-career, in which he won twice from 18 starts, to working on a cattle ranch, to eventing under rider Kristi Radosevich, who competes him under the name Thalweg. To demonstrate how quiet the gelding is, Arapahoe Park trainer Cimmaron Gerke got on at the competition and asked him to pull a sleigh – with Horowitz aboard.

“Beyond the Wire, a Focus on Aftercare” is a new feature appearing every weekend in DRF. To submit an OTTB  story idea or inquire about sponsorship opportunities, please email us at aftercare@drf.com