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news Meet the contenders for RoR Horse of the Year

10th December 2018

Counting down to the 2018 RoR Awards on Wednesday 12th December, here are the stories behind the nominations for two of the four finalists in the running for RoR Horse of the Year, sponsored by The Jockey Club

Ponte Vecchio (Eventing / showjumping) owned and ridden by Stuart Nie

14-year-old gelding, by Trans Island, formerly trained by Jim Boyle

When he is not driving a lorry for a living, Stuart Nie goes eventing and showjumping on his former racehorse, Ponte Vecchio. In 2018 the pair qualified for the Grassroots Championships at Badminton Horse Trials, securing a top ten finish in a field of 115 starters in the prestigious Mitsubishi Motors Cup.

Ponte Vecchio raced fourteen times on the Flat before his retirement in 2008. With no win, one second and a couple of third places to his name, he was no great shakes as a racehorse but what he had in his favour was that he was trained by Jim Boyle, who together with his wife Pippa, appreciate what racehorses can achieve in alternative careers.

Ponte Vecchio left racing as a four-year-old and was sold to Stuart Nie to be retrained as an eventer. Pippa and Jim have followed his career with Stuart ever since and despite Ponte Vecchio showing himself to have a slightly quirky approach to life, in the ten years following his retirement from racing he has achieved so much.

By the time he was a five-year-old, he was already competing in British Showjumping classes, after which followed successes in British Eventing classes. While in dressage, he has competed at Medium level in British Dressage and for British Riding Club.

With his proficiency proven in all three disciplines, Stuart and Ponte Vecchio have twice qualified for and completed the Grassroots Championships at Badminton Horse Trials (2107 and 2018), finishing in the top ten this year.

The combination has also previously represented Great Britain at riding club level in the World Club Showjumping Championships, where they were members of the GB team that finished fourth in France in 2015. Prior to that the pair had qualified for the British Riding Club National Showjumping Championships three times and were part of the winning team at intermediate level in 2014.

All in all, Ponte Vecchio has come a long way, both in time and experience, since his racing days over ten years ago and he is a great advert for the retrained racehorse.

Monkerty Tunkerty, (Showjumping) owned and ridden by Jess Westwood

15-year-old, by Silver Patriarch, formerly trained by Jess Westwood

Having an instantly recognisable name is 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 factors too.

Monkerty Tunkerty retired from racing as a 13-year-old in 2016 after a career in which he won nine races and was placed a further twelve times from a total of 33 runs.

Since 2010 ‘Monkey’ has been in the care of Jess Westwood. Jess has owned and trained him ever since, also riding Monkey to victory in four point-to-points and his first win under rules at Warwick. When he was switched to racing under rules full-time, she continued to train him and nursed him back from a serious injury to win a valuable race at Wincanton. During his rehabilitation, Jess did some show jumping on Monkey, paving the way for a second career as Mr Versatile.

Now at 15 years young, Monkerty Tunkerty is a shining example of the thoroughbred’s versatility. In his relatively brief RoR career he has been equally successful and consistent in Challenge classes as he has been in dressage tests, and in the show ring he won on his first attempt competing in open company at the Devon County & Royal Cornwall Show.

In the summer he joined British Showjumping and won three big classes and at the RoR National Championships at Aintree he was placed in three different disciplines at championship level. Monkey is clearly thriving in his new lifestyle and is happy to turn his hoof to anything.

His remarkable temperament 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 some notable successes.

Latest news RoR is always interested to hear of other success stories so please email us and send a photograph of your own story.

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