Absorbine Groom of the Year 2021

Welcome to the Horse & Hound Awards 2021, which are back for the sixth year to celebrate the stars of equestrianism, in partnership with NAF

  • Honouring the dedication, skill and sheer effort and love of horses this individual exerts to ensure the best care of their charges, day and night.

    The winner of the Absorbine Groom of the Year 2021 is Tilly Hughes. Tilly, 22, works for eventer Laura Collett and was her travelling groom for the Tokyo Games. Tilly joined Laura’s team at the end of the 2018 season.

    Career highlight: the Tokyo Olympics, where the British team won gold, was Tilly’s finest moment so far. “Tokyo was my first championship so it was quite a big one to start off. Suddenly we were doing the trot-up and it was like, ‘OK, we’re actually here!’” says Tilly.

    Her top tip: “Always be aware of timings. I write everything down and I’m obsessed with lists.”

    A horse special to Tilly? “Laura’s Tokyo ride London 52, because he gave me the opportunity to go to the Games.”

    Jane Felton accepted the Absorbine Groom of the Year award on behalf of Tilly Hughes, who was unable to attend the gala night.

    This year’s other nominees were:

    Jaydene McGourty

    JAYDENE, 28, is a former groom of dressage rider Luke Baber-Davies and has recently joined Sara Millis as head girl.
    Career highlight: besides being shortlisted for the Horse & Hound Awards in 2020, Jaydene lists a recent trip to Germany with Luke for the young horse World Championships as a special memory. “The championships were an amazing experience for myself, Luke and the horses,” she says.
    Her top tip: “Know your rider inside and out. You need to be 10 steps ahead and super-organised if you want things to run smoothly.”
    A special horse to Jaydene? “Luke’s former ride Keystone Disaronno. He was always my number one horse, we were like best friends.”

    Beth Revill

    BETH, 25, is a freelance groom who escorted the British Paralympic horses on their journey to Belgium for their flight to the Tokyo Games. She became a groom while studying at university.
    Career highlight: Beth also escorted the Paralympic horses to Belgium for the Rio Paralympics, but says the Tokyo airport run trumped that. “Tokyo was so special because with Covid nobody really knew if it was going to happen,” she says.
    Her top tip: “Being super-organised. If we’re at a competition, I have a whiteboard where I set everything out in a special order.”
    A horse special to Beth? “Sophie Wells’ Tokyo ride Don Cara M. He’s just such a nice person.”

    Alex Walker

    ALEX, 22, is a groom for Northumberland-based Mini Pony Hire, run by his mother Lisa. He grew up with the late Shetland pony Smurf, a former Horse & Hound award winner, and on leaving school stepped into the family business.
    Career highlight: variety is the spice of Alex’s work. “I could be dressing ponies as unicorns for children’s parties, or taking part in historical reenactments. No two days are the same,” he says.
    His top tip: “Always having a treat or two on hand. Food works wonders with the ponies when you have jobs you need to get done.”
    A special horse to Alex? “Our standard Shetland, Marley. He can be quite mischievous but he can turn his hoof to anything.”

    Previous winners of this award include:

    • 2020: Amelia Jay Sanderson, freelance groom
    • 2019: Amy Phillips, groom to Piggy French
    • 2018: Jane Felton, groom to Jonty Evans
    • 2017: E-J Eldridge, yard manager at Stallions AI breeding station
    • 2016: Alan Davies, groom to Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin

    About the Horse & Hound Awards 2021

    We’re back! The Horse & Hound Awards returned for the sixth year in a row, running again in partnership with NAF.

    Last year’s successful online H&H Awards achieved record participation, with nearly 58,000 votes cast. We were thrilled to be back in person for 2021, with a glittering ceremony at Cheltenham Racecourse. Around 300 people, including Olympic and Paralympic superstars, gathered to enjoy a glamorous evening of champagne and dancing as the winners were revealed.

    As previously, the H&H Award winners have been nominated and voted for by you. We seek to recognise both the big names who have made 2021 special and the unsung heroes who make it possible for all of us to enjoy equestrian sport and our horses, at whatever level.

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