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news RoR Awards celebrate unique bond between horse and rider

24th January 2022
Anastasia Choma (centre) with the RoR Horse Personality of the Year Award along with fellow finalists Esmé Foster (left) and Kerry Humphries (right)
  • RoR Horse Personality of the Year winner helped owner through her traumatic cancer treatment
  • Awards night at the home of horseracing showcases the versatility of former racehorses

On an emotionally charged evening at the historic Jockey Club Rooms, the RoR Awards (Saturday 22 January) celebrated the achievements of former racehorses across a range of disciplines before concluding with the announcement of the winner of RoR Horse Personality of the Year.

The RoR Horse Personality of the Year award attracted over 200 nominations and was judged by leading jockey Hollie Doyle. The horse she selected as the winner was the 12-year-old gelding Henri De Boistron, who came into owner Anastasia Choma’s life a year before she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Following the presentation of the award by Annie Dodd, of the Horserace Betting Levy Board, Anastasia Choma recounted her ordeal: “In 2019, my life came crashing down around me and I was thrown into a whole new terrifying world of hospital appointments, surgeries and chemotherapy.”

“Fortunately, I was able to continue looking after and riding Henri throughout my treatment and a hack with Henri would always help with the brain fog following chemo and he looked after me, put a smile on my face and kept me going.”

“Winning this award is very special. It’s well-deserved for Henri, who was my rock through my cancer treatment. His temperament is testament to how incredible former racehorses are. It would all have been so much harder without him. I am so grateful to him and I’m looking forward to a long and happy future together.”

Following her treatment, Anastasia and Henri together hacked 100km through the month of October 2020 raising over £2,000 for Breast Cancer Now. Now cancer free Anastasia is looking forward to doing some eventing with Henri in the coming season. On the track, Henri De Boistron won one of his eleven starts for trainer Tom George, before being retired from racing in 2015.

Judge Hollie Doyle said: “I loved how understanding Henri was in helping Anastasia through her treatment and recovery, how he responded to her when she was feeling week or unwell. It really goes to show how sensitive horses can be and how good the rider and horse’s relationship must be.”

Watch Anastasia and Henri’s story here:

Also present on the night were the connections of the two runners-up for RoR Horse Personality of the Year; Esmé Foster, the rider of Daffern Seal, and Kerry Humphries, the rider of One Pekan, both of whose stories also highlighted the unique bond that exists between horse and rider.

Hosted by Sky Sports Racing’s Hayley Moore and trainer Richard Phillips, the evening also saw awards presented to the elite winners from six different equine disciplines, all showcasing the thoroughbred’s versatility. Collecting the award for RoR Elite Eventing Champion, were the owner and rider of Our Old Fella, Jayne McGivern and Team GB rider Piggy March. Now an 11-year-old, Our Old Fella failed to shine on the racecourse and on the polo pitch, but in eventing he has truly found his niche and in 2021 he accumulated more British Eventing points than any other former racehorse competing at Novice level and above.

Another heart-warming story celebrated on the night was that of the RoR Elite Polo Champion, Les Soeurs. The 19-year-old mare exited racing 17 years ago, after four unsuccessful runs as a two-year-old for Newmarket trainer Michael Bell. Throughout her long post racing career, she has been ridden by Matt Perry, who took her on aged 14, and the pair now compete together at the top level in polo. Les Soeurs is set to have a swan song season playing polo in 2022 before being retired, with Perry family hopeful they can yet breed from her.

The two showing awards acknowledged the fantastic support given to RoR by its valued sponsors, The Jockey Club and Tattersalls. Chief Executive of The Jockey Club, Nevin Truesdale was on hand to present the award for RoR Elite Supreme Show Series Champion to Katie Dashwood, owner and rider of Minella Rebellion. This full brother to former star chaser Balthazar King enjoyed a remarkable year in the show ring, crowned by victory at The Jockey Club RoR National Championships.

The award for the Tattersalls Elite Champion was presented on behalf of the sponsors by Alex Mommersteeg to Collette McGoldrick, who recalled the amazing day she enjoyed in the main arena at Hickstead when riding Mumford to championship glory in June last year.

The full list of 2021 Elite Award winners is as follows:

  • RoR Elite Dressage Champion – Crewzando, owned and ridden by Patricia Hoskins
  • RoR Elite Polo Champion – Les Soeurs, owned and ridden by Matt Perry
  • RoR Elite Endurance Champion – He’s A Charmer, ridden and owned by Lynn Harvey
  • RoR Elite Supreme Show Series Champion - Minella Rebellion, owned and ridden by Katie Dashwood
  • RoR Tattersalls Elite Champion – Mumford, ridden by Collette McGoldrick
  • RoR Elite Eventing Champion – Our Old Fella, owned by Jayne McGivern, ridden by Piggy March
  • RoR Racing to Hunting Challenge winner – Sire Collonges, owned and ridden by Tom Jonason

RoR Chief Executive, Di Arbuthnot, added: “Once again, it was a memorable night and after such a difficult couple of years it was lovely to be able to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of both horse and rider.

“Particularly moving were the stories behind the three finalists for RoR Horse Personality of the Year. In each case the horse in question has had a profound impact on the lives of people around them and they were powerful reminders of the value of developing a connection with a thoroughbred.

“Our thanks also to our valued sponsors. It was wonderful to be able to welcome them so they could witness first-hand how their funding and support has a widespread positive effect.”

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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