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news Monkerty Tunkerty wins RoR Horse of the Year

13th December 2018
Jessica Westwood, owner and rider of Monkerty Tunkerty receiving her RoR Horse of the Year award from RoR Chairman, Paul Roy with Luke Harvey and Mike Cattermole.
  • Jockey Club sponsored award goes to the popular and versatile gelding
  • Just one of many stories on a night that celebrated RoR’s elite champions

The evergreen and ever popular Monkerty Tunkerty was last night crowned RoR Horse of the Year for 2018. The award, sponsored by The Jockey Club, was the final prize given at the 2018 RoR Awards, held at The Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket.

The judging panel of RoR Patron, Sir Anthony McCoy and TV presenter Luke Harvey had the difficult job of choosing from one of four finalists. Any one of the quartet would have been a worthy winner of Horse of the Year but in the end they selected Monkerty Tunkerty and in front of a packed room of guests, the gelding’s devoted owner, trainer and rider, Jess Westwood, collected the award.

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. Since 2010 ‘Monkey’ has been in the care of Jess Westwood, who has owned and trained him, as well as riding Monkerty Tunkerty to victory in four point-to-points and to his first win under rules at Warwick.

Jess Westwood said of Monkerty Tunkerty: “We bought him as a 7-year-old for myself to train and ride. We did not actually think a lot of him initially, but he won first time out for me at a local point-to-point and I was over the moon. And that was the beginning of an incredible journey.

“We decided to retire him after the Somerset National in 2016 as he had lost his form. We then re-schooled him and did a lot of flat work and hill work, just teaching him to be a ‘normal’ horse again.”

Now aged 15, Monkerty Tunkerty is a shining example of the thoroughbred’s versatility, enjoying success in showing, dressage and showjumping. In the show ring this year he won on his first attempt in open company at the Devon County Show and in the summer he started competing in affiliated British Showjumping events, winning three classes before heading to the RoR Goffs UK National Championships at Aintree, where he was placed at championship level in three different disciplines.

The bond between Jess and Monkey is particularly strong and both have helped each other through some difficult times: “I had a serious fall in a point-to-point and I was flown to hospital. It was my second serious head injury and for a time my left side was paralyzed. I think, to be honest, he is the reason why I am still here today. He kept me going throughout my rehabilitation.

“He gave me five winners as a jockey, he won nine races himself, I’ve won county shows on him, I’ve won affiliated jumping classes, we’ve done so well in dressage and showing. He’s a one a million a horse, I would not change a thing about him.”

The RoR awards celebrate the versatility and adaptability of former racehorses with trophies and total prize money of over £17,000 going to the year’s elite champions in dressage, endurance, eventing, polo, showing and showjumping.

During the course of the evening as the awards were given out, some wonderful stories were told of former racehorses that have only found their true niche once tried in a different discipline.

One such example is Faye Belle, winner of the Elite Polo Champion award, a mare who was unplaced in all of her eight starts as a two-year-old and finished her career with a handicap rating of 45. Now as a seven-year-old she competes at the very top level in international polo and is owned and ridden by David Pelon Stirling, the Uruguayan polo player, currently rated number four in the world.

Faye Belle was prepared and produced for her polo career by Will Brasher, who was on hand at the Jockey Club Rooms to collect the award. Brasher describes watching Faye Belle, the horse he had produced, playing in the Queen’s Cup and the Gold Cup for one the world’s best players as the “most amazing feeling”.

The winner of the RoR Special Recognition Award was 16-year-old Peopleton Brook, a sprinter who ran over 90 times during his racing career but who is now performing a much more valuable role at the charity Horseback UK. Having been re-trained by Horseback UK co-founder, Jock Hutchinson, ‘Brook’ heads the charity’s team of horses working with physically and mentally wounded veterans.

Jock Hutchinson said: “Peopleton Brook is a horse whose career and recovery epitomises the journeys endured by all those we serve at Horseback UK. He has a new career and has found both purpose and happiness, and in turn the servicemen and women who work with him re-discover their purpose and confidence.”

RoR Chief Executive, Di Arbuthnot said: “Seeing the delight on the faces of the award winners and hearing their backstories and their triumphs over adversity is not only very heart-warming, it is also reassuring in terms of the strategy we have undertaken in recent years. The disciplines are becoming increasingly competitive and the quality of winner is improving year on year.”

The 2018 RoR Awards winners:

RoR Elite Dressage Champion, in association with British Dressage
Cheeky Wee Red, 10-year-old chestnut mare by Pastoral Pursuits
Owned and ridden by Alice Pullem

RoR Elite Polo Champion & winner of the Gerald Balding Cup
Faye Belle, 7-year-old bay filly by Lucky Story (USA)
Owned by David ‘Pelon’ Stirling, Produced by Will Brasher

RoR Elite Eventing Champion, in association with British Eventing
Watergate Bay, 12-year-old bay gelding by Definite Article
Owned by the Colderick Family, ridden by Harriet Colderick

RoR Elite Endurance Champion, in association with Endurance GB
Against The Rules, 12-year-old bay gelding by Diktat
Owned and ridden by Elaine Wallbridge

RoR Elite Supreme Show Champion
What Of It, 15-year-old bay gelding by Tel Quel (FR)
Owned by Mrs Sarah Ward, Ridden by Hannah Horton

RoR Show Series Champion, sponsored by Tattersalls
What Of It, 15-year-old bay gelding by Tel Quel (FR)
Owned by Mrs Sarah Ward, Ridden by Hannah Horton

RoR Elite Showjumping Award, in association with British Showjumping
Storm Blue, 10-year-old bay gelding by Bluegrass Cat (USA)
Owned and ridden by Miss Annabelle Jay

RoR Racing to Hunting Challenge and the Meriel Tufnell Trophy
Kasilia, 20-year-old bay gelding by Silver Rainbow
Owned by Tim Brown, Ridden by Amy Brown

RoR Special Recognition Award
Peopleton Brook, 16-year-old bay gelding by Compton Place
Owned by Horseback UK, Retrained by Jock Hutchinson

RoR Horse of the Year, sponsored by The Jockey Club
Monkerty Tunkerty, 15-year-old bay gelding by Silver Patriarch
Owned and ridden by Jess Westwood

All the award winners from the night.

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