Matter of Priority providing smiles to the Gold Coast in retirement

Gelding Matter of Priority was an absolute Gold Coast specialist in his racing days.

So, it is only right that now that he is retired that he can continue to sparkle on the Glitter Strip of the Sunshine State.

The son of Stravinsky enjoyed 21 career starts in his racing career.

He was able to run in the money on just three occasions, with all of them being victories at the Gold Coast.

He was a popular horse in those days, regularly coming from last to swoop past the field in impressive finishes. 

Almost a decade since he last faced the starter, Matter Of Priority is still provided smiles, just a short drive the Bundall race track.

As a 17-year-old, he is living out his days at the Arundel Park Riding for the Disabled.

He has kept his connection to the Gold Coast Turf Club through Ian Brown.

Brown works as the Executive Manager of Racing and Integrity at the club during the week, as well as also serving as a committee member at the Arundel Park RDA.

Arundel Park RDA has a herd of 15 horses with a few being former race horses, including Matter of Priority, who goes by the name "Matti" these days.

"There is a synergy between what they are doing and the charities that the Gold Coast Turf Club are supporting," Brown said.

"It is a great operation they run there at Arundel, giving children and adults the opportunity to ride horses, which gives them relief for what they are dealing with on a daily basis.

"It is good for me to be able to support them on a personal level, as well as from a Gold Coast Turf Club perspective."

Like many clubs in the Sunshine State, the Gold Coast Turf Club has a number of clerk of the course horses who are also former race horses.

Over 100 participants use the Arundel Park RDA facility on a weekly basis, with Matti participating in around ten lessons a week, with a couple every day.

The popular gelding participates in the facilities ridden program, as well as working on a one-on-one basis with a participant or in a group setting in the arena or on trail rides.

Hilary Stubbs – who is the Arundel Park RDA Coach – works closely with Matti through participant Ruby Fletcher.

"He is great and has a fan club," Stubbs said.

"A lot of our young adults really interact well with him and have a great connection with him.

"He is calm and very predictable. He has a great personality."

Matti has called the centre home since 2014.

Participants travel from Ipswich, Beaudesert and the northern Gold Coast to attend the Arundel Park facility and ride Matti, as well as their other horses.

Arundel Park RDA's sponsorship manager Sue Wallace ­believes former race horses are a key competent to their operation.

"They are integral for programs like they are horses that are used to routines more than anything and they are well educated," Wallace said.

"A thoroughbred and a standardbred are just so durable.

"They have had good upbringings at commercial studs – they always really look after their horses – so they come to I think a lot of the work is done.

"It is then up to us to get out of the horse what we need."

Wallace described Matti as a "headline horse' and declared everyone loves him at Arundel Park.

The Queensland Off-The-Track Program earlier this year allocated more than $100,000 to not-for-profit organisations and charities that provide a lifelong safety net for retired racehorses.

Having recently launched the QOTT Grants Program, seven organisations were successful across three categories, including Arundel Park RDA, which maximise after-care outcomes for retired thoroughbred and standardbred horses.

They were awarded a QOTT Therapy Horse Grant.

"That will help them support the Off-The-Track horses they already have and then also help them find other retired horses to bring them into the herd," Brown said of the grant.

Stubbs is hopeful of bringing another former race horse into their herd after receiving the grant and then training them up to work with participants such as Fletcher.

"Any horse that comes from the racing industry needs a lot of work, sometimes it can be up to 12 months," Stubbs said.

"We need to make sure the horse has come down from his racing career and then suitable for our needs."


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