The Saracen Young Rider of the Year award celebrates up-and-coming talent in the horse world. All nominees must be under 25 years old on the day of the H&H Awards (4 December).
“Saracen Horse Feeds is delighted to be sponsoring the Saracen Young Rider of the Year at the 2019 H&H Awards because it allows us to recognise individuals who have serious aspiration for the sport,” said a spokesman. “Feeding the future is as important to the horse as it is the rider, and Saracen looks forward to supporting the next generation of world class talent.”
Previous winners of this award include:
- 2018: Lottie Fry, dressage rider
- 2017: Will Furlong, eventer
The H&H judging panel, which included at least one independent judge, chose a shortlist of contenders from all the nominees received. Public voting has now closed and the winner will be announced at the gala awards dinner at Cheltenham on Wednesday 4 December.
Saracen Young Rider of the Year 2019 shortlist
Amber Thorpe, 25, showing
Biggest achievement: Amber and her Highland stallion Highland Chief Of Talisker won two classes from two starts at the 2019 Royal International, also taking the overall mountain and moorland ridden championship before standing reserve supreme pony.
Equestrian inspiration: “Aimee Devane and Lyndsey Hillyard. Both are amazing horsewomen who work incredibly hard with the results to show for it. Lyndsey and Aimee have supported me enormously throughout my competitive career and have taught me so much.”
Aim for 2020: “I hope to have an up-and-coming show animal to bring on. While I love to show on the qualifying circuit, I find it extremely rewarding to find, break and produce a young horse and bring it up through the levels in the show ring. I also enjoy working hunter classes, so another aim is to find time to jump more often.”
Finn Healy, 15, eventing
Biggest achievement: winning individual and team gold medals at the pony European Championships in Strzegom, Poland, riding Midnight Dancer II. Finn started riding the gelding in September 2018 and has also scored a win, second and third in British Eventing competitions.
Equestrian inspiration: “Oliver Townend because he’s an amazing rider and he’s also been very generous to me — he’s always taking the time to talk to me at competitions and give me a bit of advice, so I think he’s an inspirational figure to have in the sport.”
Aims for 2020: “Hopefully to do well at the pony trials again and try to get back on the European team for my final year in ponies. We’ll see how things go — I’d like to try to defend my title, but there’s a lot of work to do to get back on the team and get to the championships. Apart from that, to keep progressing and learning.”
Georgia Wilson, 23, para dressage
Biggest achievement: if anybody hadn’t heard of Georgia at the beginning of 2019, they certainly have now. With her 10-year-old mare Midnight, the grade II para rider from north Wales made the British team for her first championship in Rotterdam for the Europeans, and exceeded all expectations by winning individual silver and gold, as well as helping the team win silver. Georgia, who trains with multi Paralympic gold medallist Sophie Wells, has cerebral palsy, which severely affects her coordination and balance, but she has never let it stop her.
Equestrian inspiration: “My trainer Sophie Wells — she is a truly amazing rider and coach and has helped me so much over the years. I couldn’t have done as well I have this year without her.”
Aims for 2020: “To go out and enjoy competing — and get to the Tokyo Paralympics.”
Mikey Pender, 20, showjumping
Biggest achievement: becoming the youngest-ever winner of the Hickstead Derby at the age of 19, riding Hearton Du Bois Halleux. In the process, he also became the first Derby debutant to win since Michael Whitaker in 1980.
Equestrian inspiration: “Both John and Michael Whitaker. I’ve admired them for as long as I can remember and for them to continue riding at the very top level for so long shows real class. I now get to compete against them sometimes and that really is amazing.”
Aim for 2020: “Definitely to try to win the Hickstead Derby again — I’m hoping it might be a bit easier this year! The plan would be to take the same horse but I’ll be looking to find another Derby horse I hope.
“I’ll start the year in the UAE, competing there for a month, then we’ll take it from there.”