Minella Rebellion repels all-comers to be crowned Supreme Champion
The sixth running of the largest event exclusively for retrained racehorses concluded on Sunday. Over the course of four days, over 250 former racehorses competed in classes for showing, dressage and jumping at the Aintree International Equestrian Centre as part of The Jockey Club RoR National Championships.
Proceedings got underway on Thursday with the RoR Northern Dressage Champion-ships. By Saturday, showing had taken centre stage culminating in the evening’s gala performance where all roads led to the final at which the title of The Jockey Club Supreme Champion was awarded.
Despite it being only their first season of competitive showing, the combination of Minella Rebellion and Katie Dashwood won over the judges and they were crowned The Jockey Club Supreme Champion 2021. Having qualified by winning the Tattersalls Novice Championship class, the nine-year-old gelding and Katie Dashwood came out on top against more experienced horses in a stellar line-up for the final that included this season’s champions from Hickstead and the Royal Highland Showground, as well as the cream of the crop from the showing classes held on Saturday evening.
Purchased for £90,000 at a Tattersalls Ireland sale at Cheltenham in May 2016, hopes were no doubt high for Minella Rebellion when he started his racing career in Britain in the care of trainer Nicky Henderson. A full brother to Cheltenham Festival winner and Grand National runner-up, Balthazar King, Minella Rebellion was sent off an odds-on favourite on his hurdling debut, but could finish only third, a finishing position not bettered in four subsequent runs before his final racecourse appearance, still aged just five, at Hexham in 2017.
Those disappointments are now distant memories for the striking son of King’s Theatre following a meteoric rise through the showing ranks in the hands of Katie Dashwood, who had previously tasted success in the novice series final at the championships with the former Emma Lavelle trained Barlow in 2019.
Katie Dashwood acquired Minella Rebellion last year during lockdown following a recommendation from her friend, former Gold Cup winning trainer, Henrietta Knight. The horse has also benefitted from the tutelage of showing producer Jo Bates.
Speaking afterwards, Katie Dashwood said: “I can’t believe it, I simply cannot believe it. He is a true showman, he loves it. I didn’t think we had a chance in the final and because I was so thrilled to have won the novice class I just went in and really enjoyed it. Our thanks to The Jockey Club and RoR – what a night!”
Reserve Champion was the eight-year-old Rich Man Poor Man, ridden by Kirstine Douglas, who added success in a class at the RoR National Championships to the title of Tattersalls RoR Scottish Champion won in July. While third place went to First Fandango and Hannah Chisman, winners of the amateur ridden championship.
The remaining finalists were the 2019 Supreme Champion, Mumford, plus the popular duo Hero Worship and Monkerty Tunkerty, with the two 18-year-olds showing they still had what it takes to compete at elite level in RoR classes. Described by his devoted rider, Abi Sole, as “like a fine wine” Hero Worship repeated his success of 2019 in the veteran’s class.
Placed behind Hero Worship in the veteran’s class, Monkerty Tunkerty and Jess Westwood had earlier taken the Tattersalls Challenge Series final, the class combining jumping and showing. Afterwards, a visibly moved Jess thanked her horse, saying “RoR has allowed a career after racing for us both.” For over a decade Jess has ridden and trained Monkerty Tunkerty, from success in point to points to victories under rules and on into a post racing career of showing, dressage and jumping. Jess went on to reveal that ‘Monkey’ would retire from competitive action after the upcoming Horse Of The Year Show.
The climax of the Northern Dressage Championships was the final for the RoR Elite Performance Award won by Crewezando and Patricia Haskins. The 15-year-old retired from racing in 2008 without a win from six starts but together with Patricia the pair have enjoyed success in a different sphere. Afterwards, an emotional Patricia was in awe of both the result and her horse: “It’s amazing, we never expected to win. It’s just amazing what these horses can do.”
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