This award is to celebrate the equine heroes of today, the horse who is at the top of his or her game and is a pure joy to watch. Of the numerous talented horses currently competing across the disciplines, which do you think is most worthy of the title Horseware Horse of the Year 2019?
“Horseware Ireland is delighted to be sponsoring Horse of the Year as the relationship between horse and human is a beautiful and precious one,” said a spokesman. “Being at one with a horse is an experience like no other.
“Horseware Ireland aims to improve every part of caring for and enjoying your horse and, whether we compete with them, train them, or ride them purely as a hobby, they deserve our love and acknowledgement.”
Previous winners of this award include:
- 2018: Arctic Soul, the former racehorse turned elite eventer, ridden by Gemma Tattersalls
- 2017: Nip Tuck, Carl Hester’s outstanding equine partner
- 2016: Valegro, the elite dressage star and world record breaker, ridden by Charlotte Dujardin
The H&H judging panel, which included at least one independent judge, chose a five-strong shortlist of contenders from all the nominees received, which was then opened to a public vote before the winner was announced at the gala awards dinner at Cheltenham on Wednesday 4 December.
Horseware Horse of the Year 2019 winner
Vanir Kamira, 14, eventing
Trevor Dickens’ 14-year-old, who was bred by Kathryn Jackson and is by Camiro De Haar Z, is one of the most complex horses competing at the top level — and yet one of the most consistent. As well as this year’s Badminton win, she was second at Burghley this year and in 2017. “It’s little horses like this that make it for us,” said Piggy after her Badminton win. “She’s a pain in the arse 352 days a year — she’s really tricky to manage and not the nicest to ride, though I say that so fondly. I love her to bits. She’s a true five-star horse and comes into her own at Badminton and Burghley. Most of the time, she’s pretty ordinary. If I built that showjumping course at home, I could jump it 50 times and not jump clear.”
Horseware Horse of the Year 2019 runners-up
Enable, 5, Flat racing
The John Gosden-trained super-mare has been dubbed the “Queen of Racing”, and during her final season on the track this year she extended her impressive formbook to 12 unbeaten runs since 2017 — 10 at Group One level. Partnered by Frankie Dettori — who credits her “unbelievable will to win” — the five-year-old daughter of Nathaniel won her first three races this season after 245 days off the track. In July, she won the Group One Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown and also took her second King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes win. After her Yorkshire Oaks win in August, Enable returned to France to seek her third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, but her famous finishing kick was blunted in the wet turf and she was pipped by Waldgeist.
Explosion W, 10, showjumping
“A horse like this only comes around once in a lifetime,” says Ben Maher of Explosion W, the phenomenal chestnut owned by Poden Farms who is widely touted as “the new Big Star”. This year alone, the 10-year-old son of Chacco-Blue, known at home as “the BFG” due to his towering stature, won three grands prix on the trot to help Ben retain the Longines Global Champions Tour title. The pair also spearheaded Great Britain’s bronze medal-winning performance at the European Championships before adding the individual silver. As well as having a sky-high percentage rate of clear rounds on his record, the gelding boasts a big personality. “His game face is always on — he believes he can win,” says Ben.
Our Cashel Blue, 10, showing
Lady Caroline Tyrrell’s “Carlsberg” cob proved himself the ultimate comeback king following a cancer diagnosis last September. Prior to his illness, the prolific blue and white lightweight contender, who is produced by Team Hood, had taken the cob championship at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) in 2016 and 2017, standing supreme in the former year. He was cob champion at the Royal International (RIHS) in 2016 and 2017. Ten-year-old Blue and his partner Allister Hood, who also became ill, in April 2018, have made a flawless return to the circuit, netting the Winston Churchill supreme horse title at the RIHS in July and standing cob champion at this year’s HOYS.
Tiger Roll, 9, National hunt
The little horse with a big heart raced into the history books in April when he became the first horse since the 1970s to claim back-to-back wins in the Grand National at Aintree. The Gordon Elliott-trained National Hunt hero returned to the hallowed Aintree turf, carrying 11st 5lb, and justified his 4/1 favouritism to beat 66/1 shot Magic Of Light by 2¾ lengths, under Davy Russell. The nine-year-old son of Authorized, who was bred to be a Flat horse, emulated the great Red Rum, becoming the first horse since Ginger McCain’s stable star in 1973/74 to win the world’s greatest steeplechase twice. Prior to his big win, Tiger Roll won the Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, emphasising just how versatile he is.