It’s one of the biggest, most prestigious training challenges in North America, and if you, like we, are a supporter of the Thoroughbred breed, you might still consider giving this year’s competition a try.

Entries for the Retired Racehorse Project’s (RRP) 2018 $100,000 Thoroughbred Makeover are now open. The general idea? To showcase the talent and trainability of this timeless breed and to support trainers from across the continent who are helping to transition off-the-track athletes into productive, second careers.

Like the breed itself, the Makeover is a celebration of the Thoroughbred’s diverse athletic talents, with prizes awarded across a variety of disciplines, including barrel racing, competitive trail, dressage, eventing, field hunter, freestyle, polo, show hunter, show jumper, and working ranch. The competition—which takes place at the Kentucky Horse Park from October 4-7, 2018—is open to professionals, amateurs, and juniors, alike, with special prize money available to non-pros. In other words, anyone with the ability and dedication can participate, not just for the glory, but a great cause.

“I love that the makeover has 10 disciplines, so it really lets you choose your horse’s strengths and shows the versatility of the breed,” says repeat winner Lindsey Partridge of Harmony Horsemanship (pictured above).

“The demand for off the track thoroughbreds is going up because of the makeover, and I think that is great, but I also love that these former race horses are getting a great deal of training and experience as part of the makeover before being sold. It gives them a better chance to find their forever home.”

Last year’s Thoroughbred Makeover was attended by 1,200 ticketed spectators and the Finale livestream was watched by 7,200 viewers; as many as 62,000 people streamed the event on Facebook Live. This year, trainer application spots are filling up quickly before the submission deadline on January 15, 2018.

If you have ever considered giving the Makeover a shot or are looking to do your part for a retired racehorse, here are five things to know before making your decision.

1. I can submit my application in time but I don’t have a horse yet. Is it too late to find one?

No! If you’ve never applied before, you’ll need to first become a member of the Retired Racehorse Project (you can apply online) and then submit a trainer application. You can find a qualified Thoroughbred any time before the competition and the Retired Racehorse Resource Directory lists plenty of good places where you can begin your horse search.

2. What does a Thoroughbred need in order to be eligible for the competition?

Horses must have either a Jockey Club lip tattoo or Jockey Club microchip and must have raced or had published work after July 1, 2016. Horses may not have started training for their second career prior to December 1, 2017, with the exception of 15 or fewer allowable rides or training sessions.

3. What kind of fees are required to apply?

It’s $45 for a membership to the Retired Racehorse Project and a $200 trainer entry fee. If your application isn’t selected this year, you’ll get your $200 back, minus a $25 processing fee.

4. How are the participants selected?

Trainers are selected based on a variety of factors, including the strength of their application, past participation/results in the Makeover, and other evidence of their ability. Applicants will also be selected accordingly based on the competition’s need for diverse representation across disciplines; among juniors, amateurs, and professionals; and geographically.

5. How many disciplines may I enter? What if I don’t know yet what discipline best suits my horse?

Applicants will need to choose up to two disciplines (based on their experience) on their trainer application. They will have the option to either keep or revise these disciplines six weeks prior to the competition based on the talents of the particular horse they’re training.

A full list of the 2018 Makeover Rules can be found here.

Photos credit: Nicole Molinaro/ Gianni Equi Media LLC, courtesy of the Retired Racehorse Project.