The equestrian world celebrates a year in the sport at the Animal Health Trust’s annual awards

The UK’s most successful jump jockey of all time, Tony McCoy, received the Antec International Animal Health Trust Special Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the racing world at last week’s Animal Health Trust’s annual equestrian awards.

The event, held at the Park Lane Hilton hotel, London, honoursthe year’s achievers in racing and equestrianism and was attended by 500 guests. It is the charity’s major annual fund-raiser and will contribute £40,000 to its Newmarket-based veterinary research facility.

Tony McCoy has joined the hallowed ranks of other AHT Special Award winners, which include the Queen Mother, the British Paralympic team, Jenny Pitman and Jennie Lorriston-Clarke.

Seven-times champion jockey, Tony looks set to claim his eighth title this year during a season which saw his lifetime winners total break the 1,700 barrier to beat the record held by Richard Dunwoody.

New look awards

This year’s awards followed a new format with individual awards specific to the main disciplines rather than the traditional horse and rider of the year titles.

Jeanette Brakewell won the Petplan Equine Eventing Award. Jeanette is the British eventing team’s pathfinder and won an individual silvermedal riding Over To You at the World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain.

The Harris Ventures Showjumping Award went the fantastic 148cm pony show jumping mare Colton Maelstrom, who has taken numerous riders to international junior show jumping success and won more than £34,900 during her career.

The Great Leighs Racing Award presented by chairman John Holmes went to Sir Alex Fergerson’s wonderful colt Rock Of Gibraltar, who won seven consecutive Group 1 races to beat record previously held by the mighty Mill Reef.

Sir Alex said: “I don’t think I’ll see anything like him again in my lifetime. The award from the Animal Health Trust goes a long way to saying what a great horse he is.”

The Manchester United manager added that he had bought a racehorse as a “release” from football but revealed that the racing bug had got to him. “With Rock Of Gibaltar it’s created more tension – especially last Saturday night!”

John Holmeswas invited to join the Fellowship of the Animal Health Trust earlier this year after progressing plans to redevelop his Essex county showground (Great Leighs) as a racecourse, equestrian and leisure facility.

John said: “I am delighted tobe able to support the work of the Trust, which I have admired for many years. It was a particular honour to be invited to sponsor its racing award. I hope it is just the start of an important contribution that Great Leighs itself will make to the industry.”

The Tom Scott (Jacksons of Bournemouth) Dressage Award was awarded to British Dressage chairman Desi Dillingham, while the Arena Leisure Showing Award was given to this year’s Working Hunter of the Year Out of Sight, ridden by Lousie Bell and owned by Sarah Gallagher.

The Shadwell Estate Veterinary Achievement Award went to Dr Derek Knottenbelt BVM&S DVM&S MRCVS of Liverpool University, while the unsung heros of the St John Ambulance received The Northern Racing Voluntary Service Award.

To find out more about the work of the Animal Health Trust visit www.aht.org.uk

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