The winner of the Cavalor Horse of the Year of 2017 was revealed at the H&H Awards gala dinner at Ascot Racecourse on 2 November.
*WINNER* Nip Tuck
Once a gangly, spooky and uncoordinated youngster, Carl Hester’s 13-year-old Don Ruto son has transformed into something of a grand prix machine — and Britain’s biggest hope for dressage medals on the international stage. At the European Dressage Championships in Gothenburg, the pair were tantalisingly close to a medal, finishing fourth in the freestyle and in the team standings.
“He’s just so genuine,” said Carl about “Barney” in Gothenburg. “What you get outside, you get in the ring.” He’s a firm favourite with the crowds too. “When I heard the crowd clapping the others, I thought, ‘Oh God’, Barney just doesn’t inspire that kind of mood, but actually he did.”
Also on the shortlist:
James and Jo Lambert’s 11-year-old mare by Tygo stepped into a new league this year when she finished best of the British horses at the European Eventing Championships. She and rider Nicola Wilson led the team to gold and claimed an individual bronze too.
Bulana has been with Nicola since 2014 and was second at Pau CIC2* that season and won Boekelo CCI3* the next year. But the Yorkshire rider has had to grapple with braking problems to get the best from this star. Cracking these led to fourth at Blenheim CCI3* last season, then this year second in the CCI4* at Luhmühlen before her Europeans medals.
“We’ve worked out how to harness her desire to please — and she’s so talented in all three phases,” said Nicola.
Our Cashel Blue
Riding high on the success of being crowned supreme horse at Horse of the Year Show last October, Lady Caroline Tyrrell’s striking blue and white cob has continued to catch the judges’ eyes this year — being crowned cob champion at the Royal International Horse Show at the end of July for the second year on the trot, and taking the reserve spot in the supreme.
“He is certainly one of the best cobs I have ever ridden,” said his rider and producer, Allister Hood, about the charismatic lightweight, who has come a long way from the wary four-year-old who first came to Allister’s yard four years ago. It turns out that hunting has been the making of him.
The 11-year-old son of Canturo can be thanked for spearheading Ireland’s team gold medal at the European Showjumping Championships in Gothenburg — the first time the Emerald Isle has taken the European team gold in 16 years. With team stalwart Cian O’Connor on board, the stallion produced a clear round when it mattered in the team competition.
And although an unlucky pole denied Good Luck the individual gold, he took home a worthy bronze. Cian took on the Belgian warmblood in 2014 from Fabrice Galdini after Adena Springs and Ronnoco Jump Ltd bought him from Dirk Geerinck. Following the disappointment of not being able to prove himself at last year’s Rio Olympics, his success at the Euros was even sweeter.
This sparky bay gelding, owned by Pammy and Charlie Hutton, is no stranger to a championship atmosphere — he partnered Charlie to four Europeans in junior and young rider ranks. This year it was with Suzanna Hext at the European Para Dressage Championships in Gothenburg that the 17-year-old was able to flick his toes and show off to the crowds in a championship arena — picking up three gold medals along the way.
“My accident was the day before the opening ceremony for London 2012 — it’s amazing to be here now, nine operations later, winning gold at a championship. But without this horse, I wouldn’t be here,” said Suzanna, a former two-star eventer who had a fall that left her partially paralysed.