It has been a very special year with numerous stand out moments, and the winner of the Charles Owen Moment of the Year 2017 was revealed at the H&H Awards gala dinner at Ascot Racecourse on 2 November.
*WINNER* Jonty Evans’ crowd-funding to secure Cooley Rorkes Drift
On 9 August, the counter ticked over to confirm that one of eventing’s most extraordinary campaigns had been successful. A month earlier, H&H broke the news that Cooley Rorkes Drift’s owner Fiona Elliott was considering selling “Art”, with whom Jonty finished ninth at Rio last year. Jonty started a crowd-funding campaign, aiming to raise £500,000. With the help of two big donations and an auction, Jonty managed to raise the cash. “This was my final choice and I didn’t really think it could be done,” Jonty said.
Also on the short-list:
Andrew Nicholson’s Badminton win
Thirty-three years of trying, a record of 37 completions. Such were the statistics touted repeatedly after Andrew Nicholson finally broke his Badminton duck in May this year. The New Zealander had been so close to victory many times before, but never pulled it off. Then this year, he piloted Nereo to victory. Andrew’s achievement was all the more remarkable because he has fought back after a terrible fall in 2015 that nearly resulted in paralysis. “I always knew I’d have this day. I just didn’t know when it was going to happen,” he said after victory.
Britain’s eventing team gold at the Europeans
After the failure to bring home any Olympic medals last year, British eventing was in the doldrums. A team gold had been lacking since the World Equestrian Games in 2010. Then, in Poland, all that changed. Britain’s fabulous three — Nicola Wilson (Bulana), Tina Cook (Billy The Red) and Ros Canter (Allstar B) — achieved personal bests in the dressage, speedy clear cross-country rounds and fault-free showjumping performances. They were led out by Oliver Townend (Cooley SRS), who had two stops, but contributed priceless information to help the others. With the Germans below par, the Brits’ combined efforts won gold.
Britain’s para dressage team gold at the Europeans
Britain is synonymous with gold medals when it comes to para dressage, and at some point you must wonder when our run of success might come to an end, or at least falter. But at the European Para Dressage Championships the Brits held their nerve once again to snatch gold from the hands of the Danes. Sophie Wells might have been the only experienced championship rider among the all-female quartet, which also included Julie Payne, Suzanna Hext and Erin Orford, but that wasn’t going to hinder them. The team gold was riding on Julie, 55, but she produced a flawless test with Athene Lindebjerg. “There’s no ‘I’ in team and we couldn’t have done it without all of us,” she said.
Barbers Shop standing supreme at Royal Windsor
“Of all my successes, this one probably gave me the most pleasure as it’s the last time he’ll be shown here,” said an emotional Katie Jerram-Hunnable after taking the ridden supreme title with The Queen’s retrained racehorse Barbers Shop, 15, who is due to retire at the end of this season. There was a supercharged atmosphere as each of the 14 high-class champions walked past the packed stands — and the watchful eye of The Queen. “Our winner had immense presence and exceptional character,” said judge and showjumper Will Funnell.
The jump-off between Ben Maher and Scott Brash at the London Global Champions Tour
With the backdrop of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London, and red telephone boxes, Big Ben and bearskin-clad guardsmen gracing the arena; you would have been hard pressed not to feel patriotic at the London Global Champions Tour in August — and even more so when there were two Brits vying for victory in the grand prix. Scott Brash and Ben Maher went head to head in pursuit of the €300,000 (£265,000) prize, with just six hundredths of a second between them. But Scott’s racing finish, and Hello Forever’s outstanding leap at the final fence, handed the Scot the top spot.