Not only has Gillian joined the membership of Women in Racing recently, but she also happens to be leading the way as the newly appointed Chief Executive of The Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Centre (TRC).
She joins an experienced team at Whinney Hill and they will be working closely with the Trustees to develop TRC as it approaches a landmark 25th anniversary.
Gillian comments: "Joining TRC is a rare opportunity to continue working in an extremely rewarding sector of the equestrian and racing industry that promotes Thoroughbred welfare and equine education and I am delighted to be joining the TRC team during this exciting transitional period.
"The management and trustees hope to implement a strategy to encourage the further development of a transparent and systematic retraining process which aids the welfare of Thoroughbreds and provides an essential service to the BHA (British Horseracing Authority), race owners and trainers. This will allow more of these extremely versatile and talented Thoroughbreds a valuable second career in the leisure and sport sectors.”
Horses have always been a huge part of Gillian's life having been involved in equestrian sport for 30 years, riding competitively in both show jumping and eventing. She is also a registered Instructor (BHSII, SM) and has worked in the commercial and charity sectors in UK, United States and more recently Hong Kong as Equestrian Operations Manager for the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC).
This experience developed Gillian's passion for Thoroughbreds in particular as 95% of all the horses in riding schools and private livery stables in Hong Kong are retired and retrained Thoroughbred race horses. As Equestrian Operations Manager she was responsible for the retired racehorse population who were not exported by their racing owners. This included overseeing more than 500 of them being retrained and successfully rehomed to begin a new chapter of their lives in an array of alternative careers and also managing the welfare of a further 700 retired HKJC Thoroughbred horses in Mainland China.
One horse in particular captured her heart with his intelligence and sense of fun. FAT DRAGON, or Fatty to his friends, didn't fit in the suitcase but he did make his way 'home' and now enjoys the Ulster countryside and other equine company at Gillian's yard in Co.Down.