The final four contenders for the title of Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) horse of the year have been announced.
The former racehorses all hail from different corners of the UK and each one has been selected as a brilliant example of the adaptability and versatility of the thoroughbred breed.
From North Yorkshire is 18-year-old gelding Lampos (pictured top), who is owned and ridden by Malton-based Jolene Midgely. He is joined the shortlist by 15-year-old Billybo from Haverford West, Pembrokeshire, who is owned and ridden by Claire Griffiths.
Also in the running are Stuart Nie’s 14-year-old eventer and showjumper Ponte Vecchio as well as 15-year-old Monkerty Tunkerty from Chulmleigh in Devon, who has been in the care of Jess Westwood for both his racing and post-racing career.
Both Lampos and Ponte Vecchio retired from racing more than 10 years ago and despite being in their mid-to-late teens, they both achieved career bests this season.
Lampos was named champion in the RoR/TBA Retrained Racehorse Challenge at the RoR National Championships at Aintree in August, as well as notching up successes in dressage, showjumping, showing and hunter trials.
Ponte Vecchio’s season highlight was an impressive top 10 finish from 115 starters in the Mitsubishi Motors Cup at Badminton. The combination has also previously represented Great Britain at riding club level in the World Club showjumping championships.
Monkerty Tunkerty’s memorable name secured him some fans on the racecourse but he also stood out for his jumping prowess, his will to win and the unmistakable bond he enjoys with his trainer, owner and original rider, Jess Westwood. The gelding fought back from serious injury to return to the winners enclosure and following retirement, he has gone on to thrive in a second career in dressage, showing and showjumping.
While all of the four finalists have proven their versatility, Billybo has shown himself to be a true all-rounder, excelling in hunting, showing, working hunter, showjumping, hunter trials, arena eventing, dressage and team chasing. Together with his owner rider Claire Griffiths, he currently combines his job as field master’s horse with the Pembrokeshire Hunt with competing. This year he has won nine classes, including two championships, before rounding off the season with a reserve champion sash at the RoR national championships.
The 20-year-old gelding ran more than 30 times and has enjoyed a decade of hunting
Four ex-racehorses were highly praised at the recent Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) Heart Awards
Take advantage of our sale on Horse & Hound magazine subscriptions today
There is now less than a week to go before the winner of the title, which is sponsored by The Jockey Club, is announced at the RoR Awards evening on 12 December. The awards take place at the historic Jockey Club rooms in Newmarket and will be hosted by Luke Harvey and Mike Cattermole.
RoR chief executive Di Arbuthnot said: “Each of the finalists is a wonderful advert for the versatility of the thoroughbred and for RoR itself.
“These horses demonstrate the benefits of our work to promote the adaptability of former racehorses, whatever their ability on the racecourse, and to develop an infrastructure of classes and competitions in which they can thrive en route to competing in open events.
“Any of the four finalists would be a worthy winner of RoR horse of the year.”
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday