An 11th category has been created for the first Horse & Hound Awards – to go a recipient chosen without input from our readers, but knowing of their support.

As well as the 10 awards for which we accepted nominations, which will be decided by public vote, H&H is awarding an inspiration of the year title, to Hannah Francis.

The event rider, who passed away aged 18 on 1 August has inspired thousands of riders over the past year, with her blog written from the point of view of soft toy Willberry Wonder Pony.

Hannah Francis

Hannah was diagnosed with bone cancer in April 2015 but continued to ride, even performing the CCI2* dressage test at Tattersalls International Horse Trials in June.

She also set up a charity, Willberry Wonder Pony, to raise funds for bone cancer research, and to grant horsey wishes to those with serious illnesses.

H&H content director Sarah Jenkins said: “The impact Hannah had on so many riders, from Olympians to those of us at grassroots, is remarkable.

“So many people who knew Hannah or read her blogs have expressed the inspiration that she gave them, the extent of which is quite extraordinary.

“We were delighted to see Hannah achieve her goal of riding at Tattersalls this year, and are moved by all her charity’s work in providing opportunities for others.

“There can be no more worthy recipient for this year’s inspiration of the year award.”


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Hannah’s parents Rachel and James have agreed to accept the award on their daughter’s behalf at the awards ceremony, to be held at Ascot racecourse on 3 November and at which the other winners will be revealed.

For more on the awards finalists, and to cast your vote, click here. Voting closes on 29 September.