The votes have been counted, the champagne opened – it’s time to reveal the winners of the first Horse & Hound awards.
H&H readers voted for their heroes in the 10 categories, the winners of which were announced this evening (3 November) at a ceremony at Ascot racecourse.
H&H content director Sarah Jenkins said: “We were delighted with the response from our magazine and website readers to these awards in this their first year and look forward to the voting and event going from strength to strength and becoming a key part of the equestrian social calendar.”
The winners are:
- Lifetime achievement award: Nick Skelton
- Professional rider of the year: Charlotte Dujardin
- Most memorable moment of the year: Ben Hobday
- Horse of the year: Valegro
- Groom of the year: Alan Davies
- Amateur rider of the year: Claire Abel
- Riding club of the year: Crown
- Vet of the year: Ken Anderson
- Volunteer of the year: Jane Cepok
- Farrier of the year: Paul Woodall
“We had more than 1,000 fantastic nominations, making it a challenge for the H&H panel to whittle these down to just five nominees in each category,” Sarah said.
“When opening these to the public vote we had more than 27,000 have their say on who should be crowned their heroes of 2016.
“This was a particularly competitive year for the rider categories, with so many standout performances in Olympic and Paralympic sport as well as racing.
“But as well as honouring those who have reached the pinnacle, the night was a wonderful opportunity to recognise those individuals — vets, farriers, volunteers, grooms, riding club teams – who all work tirelessly to keep our horses well, be they hacks or Olympians, and allow us to get the maximum possible enjoyment out of our sport and leisure.
“Huge congratulations to all of our winners, particularly Nick Skelton who has clearly captured the imaginations of several generations with his dedication and success.
“Watching what Nick’s peers and family had to say about him as a human being as well as an athlete was a particularly moving part of an overwhelmingly enjoyable but emotional evening, none of which would have been possible of course without our sponsors’ generosity and the H&H team’s hard work.”
The special H&H inspiration award was also presented to inspirational teenage event rider Hannah Francis, who died from bone cancer in August, but whose charity Willberry Wonder Pony has raised thousands for cancer research and granting horsey wishes to those with serious illnesses.