NORTH CAROLINA TRAINER WINS RETIRED RACEHORSE TRAINER CHALLENGE

DIERKS and BRAZILIAN WEDDING (Chronicle Of The Horse)

The Equine Arena at the Pennsylvania Horse World Expo was filled way beyond capacity yesterday for the Retired Racehorse Training Project’s first Retired Racehorse Trainer Challenge. Sixteen hundred sixty were lucky enough to find seats, and almost that many stood six deep above them on three sides of the huge arena.


Eric Dierks of Tryon, North Carolina was awarded the Best Trainer title based on his five weeks of work with Brazilian Wedding, a 6 year old mare by Milwaukee Brew, who won her last race in December at Charles Town for trainer Kevin Patterson. She is owned by Pat Dale of Conowingo, Maryland.

“I am so grateful to everybody who organized this event,” said Dierks at the press conference after the Challenge. “Thoroughbred horses made me what I am as a trainer, and being part of an effort to showcase the trainability of these horses is an honor for me.”

Three trainers worked with horses who had no training – other than racing – for five weeks. They selected and rode their horses for the first time before a packed house at the Maryland Horse World Expo in January. Their online videos of the process were viewed 50,000 times.  

Followers voted in the final three days for the trainer who impressed them most, and three judges were given 100 votes each to award after their final presentation. The judges were Olympian James Wofford, CANTER Mid-Atlantic founder Allie Conrad, and Alex Brown, author of Greatness and Goodness: Barbaro and His Legacy.

In addition to Dierks, the Challenge included  Kerry Blackmer of Admastown, Maryland with Robin Coblyn’s Four X The Trouble, and  Tiffany Catledge of Middleburg, Virginia with Mid-Atlantic Horse Rescue’s Solidify and James Falk’s High Level.

The Retired Racehorse Training Project will soon announce details about a second Trainer Challenge that will be open to both amateurs and professionals and take place over a three month period, as well as a public event in Kentucky on the afternoon and evening after cross country at the Rolex Kentucky CCI.