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news Finalists announced for 2018 RoR Horse of the Year

5th December 2018
  • Four versatile former racehorses in the running for The Jockey Club sponsored award
  • One week to go - counting down to the 2018 RoR Awards

The list of nominees in the running for the accolade of 2018 RoR Horse of the Year has been whittled down to the final four. The four horses come from four different parts of the country, each showed varying levels of ability on the racecourse, but what they all have in common is a special bond with their owner riders and careers after racing that highlight the thoroughbred’s adaptability and versatility.

The winner of the award, which is sponsored by The Jockey Club, will be announced at the annual RoR Awards evening, held in one week’s time on Wednesday 12th December. The awards are held at the historic Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket and will be hosted by Luke Harvey and Mike Cattermole.

The final four contenders for RoR Horse of the Year are geographically spread between Devon and North Yorkshire. Flying the flag for the north is the 18-year-old gelding Lampos, owned and ridden by Malton based Jolene Midgely. Representing Wales, from Haverford West, Pembrokeshire comes the 15-year-old Billybo, owned and ridden by Claire Griffiths, and from Cirencester, Gloucestershire is Stuart Nie’s 14-year-old eventer and showjumper Ponte Vecchio. Completing the quartet is the 15-year-old, Monkerty Tunkerty, from Chulmleigh in Devon, who has been in the care of Jess Westwood for both his racing and post-racing career.

The RoR awards acknowledge and celebrate the versatility of former racehorses across a range of disciplines, with prizes awarded to the RoR elite winners in dressage, polo, eventing, endurance and showing. The final award on the night is RoR Horse of the Year, sponsored by The Jockey Club, the winner of which is selected by RoR Patron, Sir Anthony McCoy, and ITV Racing and At The Races presenter, Luke Harvey.

Highlighting how long and fulfilling a career after racing can be, both Lampos and Ponte Vecchio retired from racing more than ten years ago and both achieved career best results in 2018 at the ages of 18 and 15 respectively. Despite a season interrupted by her visits to hospital for treatment, Jolene Midgely and Lampos were crowned Champions in the RoR/TBA Retrained Racehorse Challenge at the RoR National Championships at Aintree in August. They have also enjoyed success in dressage, showjumping, showing and at hunter trials.

When he is not driving a lorry for a living, Stuart Nie goes eventing and showjumping on his former racehorse, Ponte Vecchio, and in 2018 the pair once again qualified for the Grassroots Championships at Badminton Horse Trials, this year securing a top ten finish in a field of 115 starters in the prestigious Mitsubishi Motors Cup. The combination has also previously represented Great Britain at riding club level in the World Club Showjumping Championships.

Having an instantly recognisable name was not the only reason Monkerty Tunkerty attracted a following of fans during his racing days, his jumping prowess, his will to win and the unmistakable bond he enjoys with his trainer, owner and original rider, Jess Westwood were other factors too. His remarkable temperament also helped ‘Monkey’ overcome a serious injury to return to the track and the winners’ enclosure and the same temperament has seen him thrive in his post-racing career, where he has already enjoyed notable successes in dressage, showing and showjumping.

Among a quartet all noted for their versatility, the 15-year-old Billybo has arguably turned his hand, or hoof, to more roles than any, excelling at hunting, showing, working hunter, showjumping, hunter trials, arena eventing, dressage and team chasing. Together with his owner rider Claire Griffiths, Billybo combines his duties as the Field Master’s horse with the Pembrokeshire Hunt with competing, this year winning nine classes, including two championships, before rounding off the season with a Reserve Champion at the RoR National Championships.

Di Arbuthnot, Chief Executive of Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), said: “Each of the finalists is a wonderful advert for the versatility of the thoroughbred and for RoR itself. These horses demonstrate the benefits of our work to promote the adaptability of former racehorses, whatever their ability on the racecourse, and to develop an infrastructure of classes and competitions in which they can thrive en route to competing in open events.

“As ever, we are very excited about the RoR Awards, it is always an enjoyable and emotional evening and any of the four finalists would be a worthy winner of RoR Horse of the Year. Our thanks again to The Jockey Club for their sponsorship of the evening’s final award and for the use of The Jockey Club Rooms as the venue.”

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