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Pikeur Amateur Rider 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.

  • Acknowledging the rider who does not make their living from riding, training or competing horses, yet dedicates themselves to their passion.

    The winner of the 2021 Pikeur Amateur Rider of the Year is Lauren Innes.

    Lauren is an accountant and a four-star event rider, who has qualified for Badminton CCI5* next year with her 11-year-old gelding Global Fision M. The pair came 11th at the Bicton CCI4*-L and third in the Blair CCI4*-L this summer.

    “I’m just keeping my fingers crossed we get to next spring in one piece!” she said, adding that she bought “Flipper” as a five-year-old from Ireland. “He can be quite sharp in the dressage but he’s the most incredible jumper, so brave and careful, and we have a great partnership.”

    Lauren tries to ride in the mornings as much as possible, in case work runs late, and benefited from Covid in that she now works at home much more, so saves commuting time.

    Her proudest moment was being on the British team that won silver at the three-star European Cup in 2019, with Flipper.

    “It was just amazing, standing on that podium and being on the team,” she said. “Riding is such an individual sport that to have that team experience was fantastic. And to ride at Badminton would be a dream come true.”

    Lauren Innes, winner of the Pikeur amateur rider of the year 2021

    This year’s other nominees were:

    Alison Stewart

    Alison is an HGV lorry driver and also a carer for her mother, who is in her nineties and has dementia.

    Alison delivers health-related equipment and pharmaceuticals, so has had a “pretty flat-out” 18 months.

    She won her eventing section at the British Riding Clubs national championships this year on her 16-year-old gelding Rico III, who would have been put down owing to his behavioural issues had she not bought him seven years ago.

    “He was rather fragile and nervous,” she said. “I went to see him, and thought, ‘I’m taking you home.’ He did lots of hacking and eating grass and thanks to the most amazing instructor, Sue Edwards, we started eventing. He’s an absolute joy.

    “I love my riding club [Kentisbeare], and the amazing people, and Sue’s very much about the relationship with your horse and making the most of it; she’s made us what we are.”

    Alison gets up at 4am, finishes work at lunchtime and then cares for her mother, fitting in riding when she can. Her proudest moments have been the riding club championships win and jumping clear with Rico at her first BE100.

    “It breaks one’s heart when you think he’d had about seven homes by the time he was nine,” she said. “It makes me think I did something good.”

    Tracy Thirlwall

    Tracy is a self-employed mobile hairdresser who competes at advanced medium dressage with her 12-year-old ex-racehorse Tapaidh Frankie. The pair won their Area Festival at that level this summer.

    “I was looking for a project to sell on when I bought her,” Tracy said. “But she was very tricky, so I couldn’t have sold her, then my other horse went wrong, so I kept her!”

    Tracy gets up at 5.30am to allow her to ride – she does not have an arena at her yard so has to hire venues or hack out – before she sees her first client at about 10am. She also teaches and judges, and fits in competing at weekends.

    “Winning that Area Festival this summer was my proudest moment because every other one she’s been last, so I was so determined,” she said. “She did a brilliant test; I messed up the last centre line because I was grinning from ear to ear.”

    Tracy and Frankie also came second in the Retraining of Racehorses championships elite performance dressage class.

    Philippa Wratten

    Philippa is a frontline police officer with the Kent Police roads policing unit. With her 10-year-old mare Ginelli Z (Vogue), whom she backed and produced, she has been competing at 1.40m level, and jumped her first 1.45m in September, qualifying for the Arena UK grand prix.

    “That was the biggest thing I’ve ever seen!” she said. “I’d been walking some area trials courses at 1.50m and they were nothing to that.”

    Philippa works two early shifts, two lates and two nights, then has three days off, fitting her three horses in on DIY.

    “You do it for the love of it,” she said. “There’s no secret, just rushing and being efficient with time, but that’s how I want to spend mine.”

    Philippa and Vogue also jumped and were placed at the Global Champions Tour in London this year, their first international, with Forces Equine, and are aiming to jump 1.50m next year.

    “If you’d told me five years ago that I’d be jumping what I am, I’d probably have laughed,” she said. “Vogue makes me proud every time she goes in the ring. She is my proud moment.”

    Previous winners of this award include:

    • 2020: Inspirational para showjumper and disability campaigner Evie Toombes, who was crowned amateur rider of the decade (2011-2020) at last year’s awards
    • 2019: amateur event rider Adam Harvey
    • 2018: amateur event rider Katie Preston
    • 2017: amateur event rider Alice Goring
    • 2016: amateur dressage rider Claire Abel

    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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