How can we choose between the year’s equine stars, who have stunned us all with their speed, elegance and pure class?
Native River, Racing
THE Colin Tizzard-trained National Hunt hero captured the hearts of racing fans back in 2016 when winning the Hennessy Gold Cup followed by the Coral Welsh Grand National.
Following an 11-month absence, the eight-year-old made a full recovery from a minor injury to restamp his authority across the National Hunt turf in 2018.
He made a triumphant comeback at Newbury in February this year when winning the Grade Two Betfair Denman Chase. The following month he went on to win jump racing’s blue riband, the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Festival, under his regular rider, the champion jockey Richard Johnson, battling it out with race favourite Might Bite.
The son of Indian River looks set to chase the Jockey Club’s £1m Triple Crown this season — he’ll need to win the Betfair Chase, the King George VI Chase and the Gold Cup.
Mount St John Freestyle, Dressage
THIS nine-year-old mare exploded onto the world stage under Charlotte Dujardin this year, proving to everyone why she is known as “Mrs Valegro”. At her first championship — and only second overseas competition — Freestyle led Britain to team bronze at WEG in Tryon, before taking individual bronze in the grand prix special with a flawless performance that earned a massive personal best of over 81%.
Bred by Stephan Kurz and discovered as a foal in Germany by the Mount St John stud’s Emma Blundell, this exquisite Fidermark mare has won a national title at a different level every year since 2015, and remained unbeaten at grand prix throughout her WEG selection campaign.
Her exceptional talent was one of the main talking points at WEG, but it’s her temperament and work ethic that sets her apart from the rest.
Diamonds Are Forever, Showing
ANNABEL JENKS’ exquisite large riding horse “Freddie” has been described by many a judge as “poetry in motion” due to his floating paces and breathtaking performances.
Supreme champion at Horse of the Year Show in 2017, the stunning bay has also taken the leading horse accolade at the Royal International two years on the trot and has been based with the Hood Show Team for the duration of his illustrious career.
“This horse has the most amazing paces,” said Oliver Hood after his 2018 Hickstead triumph. “It felt like we could do anything. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse.”
Allister Hood, the horse’s co-producer and Oliver’s father, adds: “Freddie is a natural showman and the most straightforward horse you could ever meet. At home he thrives on variety.”
Arctic Soul, Eventing
NOW 15, “Spike” was the grand old man of the British eventers at WEG. Gemma Tattersall knew from selection that they would be the pathfinders and they filled the role to perfection, coming home easily inside the time. They test-rode the routes which the rest of the Brits followed, and proved that time could be made up in the final stages of the course.
Gemma and Spike brought home valuable information for the team and kicked off a cross-country day during which all four British team members finished clear and inside the time. Ultimately, this led to team gold.
Arctic Soul, who belongs to The Soul Syndicate, is a flagbearer for ex-racehorses. He started his eventing career with Nicky Roncoroni, before joining Gemma as a nine-year-old. His five top-10 four-star results include taking third at both Badminton (2016) and Burghley (2017).
Vote for the Feedmark Horse of the Year
The Award winners will be revealed at the H&H Awards dinner on 8 November at Cheltenham Racecourse, to which all those shortlisted will be invited with a guest.