The world of equestrian sport is packed with fabulous moments that capture our imagination and go down in history to be referred to time and time again in the future. These are those special moments where you know you’ll never forget being there when it happened.
“Horserail is delighted to sponsor the Moment of The Year at the Horse & Hound Awards 2019,” said a spokesman. “We wanted to celebrate another fantastic year of equestrian success and we felt there was no better place to do that than at the Horse & Hound Awards.”
Previous winners of this award include:
- 2018: Jonelle and Tim Price, do the double by winning Badminton and Burghley in the same year
- 2017: Jonty Evans’ securing his Rio ride Cooley Rorkes Drift thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign
- 2016: Ben Hobday riding triumphantly through the finish at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials after recovering from cancer, complete with Willberry Wonder Pony on his back
The H&H judging panel, including at least one independent judge, chose the following shortlist of four contenders from those nominated. The short list was then open to a public vote and the winner was announced at the gala awards dinner at Cheltenham on Wednesday 4 December.
2019 Horserail Moment of the Year winners
Pippa Funnell’s Burghley victory
The British rider ruled the autumn five-star this year, leading throughout on Jane and Jonathan Clarke’s inexperienced 11-year-old MGH Grafton Street. As H&H’s report said, “Pippa has been Britain’s eventing dressage queen for two decades”, and a sparkling test set her 2.5 penalties ahead after this phase. On Saturday, she put in a brilliantly gritty performance over a tough Mark Phillips cross-country track to finish with just four time-faults. Pippa, Piggy French and Oliver Townend were ahead of the chasing pack going into the final showjumping; Pippa had a pole in hand, but used it up when MGH Grafton Street plunged through fence eight. The crowd held their breath as she cleared the remaining seven obstacles, then burst into cheers — there could have been no more popular winner than Pippa, 16 years after her only previous Burghley win.
2019 Horserail Moment of the Year runners-up
Mikey Pender winning the Hickstead Derby aged 19
Many of the world’s greatest horsemen have spent years trying to win the Hickstead Derby and never taken the title. But in June this year, Irish teenager Mikey Pender lifted the Boomerang trophy, stamping his name in the record books as the competition’s youngest ever victor. The 19-year-old and the big-jumping Hearton Du Bois Halleux — a 12-year-old gelding more famed for his puissance credentials — jumped the only double clear after a three-way jump-off to become the 59th winner of the Hickstead Derby. Making the feat all the more astonishing is the fact that it was the first-ever Derby for either of the pair. “It’s the dream of every rider who comes here,” he said. “My horse was absolutely amazing.”
Tiger Roll’s double Grand National triumph
The diminutive gelding earned himself the nickname the “people’s horse” when claiming back-to-back Grand National victories after storming to success in the 2019 renewal, under Davy Russell. The nine-year-old by Authorized, who was bred to be a Flat horse, achieved legendary status thanks to his impressive Aintree feat — becoming the first horse since Red Rum to claim the back-to-back double. The Gordon Elliott-trained superstar will bid to win a record-breaking third consecutive Grand National in 2020, emulating Red Rum’s trio of wins. Tiger Roll justified 4/1 favouritism by holding off 66/1 shot Magic Of Light, carrying 11st 5lb. Nineteen combinations finished the big race, from a line-up of 40.
Paisley Park’s Cheltenham win
Paisley Park produced some emotional scenes in the winner’s enclosure at the Cheltenham Festival when landing the Grade One Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle, under Aidan Coleman. Winning for owner Andrew Gemmell — who has been blind since birth — and trainer Emma Lavelle, Paisley Park displayed his impressive turn of foot to take the lead approaching the final flight, before storming up the famous Cheltenham hill. “This is a real dream for me, I cannot believe it has happened,” said Andrew after the race. “We are so chuffed and we’re all in tears.” Paisley Park runs in the colours of Andrew’s football team, West Ham United, and is named after the American estate owned by the late singer Prince — Andrew’s favourite musician. The seven-year-old son of Oscar was claiming a second Grade One victory for his Wiltshire-based trainer.