The human and equine heroes of the equestrian world in 2019 – as chosen by H&H readers – have been announced at the H&H Awards, in partnership with NAF, tonight (4 December).
In a star-studded ceremony at Cheltenham racecourse, the winners of 11 different categories were revealed.
H&H editor-in-chief Sarah Jenkins said: “These awards have been our biggest to date and as well as a record number of nominations received, more that 23,000 people voted for their heroes in one week. It’s wonderful to see just how much public support there is for the individuals and groups who put so much into our sports.”
The Horserail Moment of the Year award went to Pippa Funnell, who led from the start to win the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials on Jane and Jonathan Clarke’s inexperienced 11-year-old MGH Grafton Street. It was 16 years since Pippa last won the title.
Piggy French, whose Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials win on Trevor Dickens’ Vanir Kamira was one of a record 15 international wins this season, was voted winner of the Ceris Burns Equestrian Professional Rider of the Year title. Piggy was also second at Burghley on Vanir Kamira and was on the European Championships silver medal-winning team on Quarrycrest Echo.
Vanir Kamira was also recognised in her own right, taking the Horseware Horse of the Year title.
The Absorbine Inspiration of the Year award went to Joe Stockdale who, since the loss of his father Tim a year ago, has taken on his string of top showjumpers, winning at Royal Windsor Horse Show and being selected to represent Britain at the young rider European Championships. With his mother Laura and brother Mark, Joe has also set up and promoted the Tim Stockdale Foundation to support young people in sport.
Eventer Finn Healy was named Saracen Young Rider of the Year. The 15-year-old won individual and team gold at the pony European Championships on Midnight Dancer II.
The Pikeur Amateur Rider of the Year award went to eventer Adam Harvey, whose 2019 highlights were winning team silver at the three-star European Championships on Picasso V, finishing fourth individually, and coming second in the CCI3*-S at Belton and Barbury.
Piggy French’s groom Amy Phillips won the NAF Five Star Groom of the Year Award. Piggy said: “Amy’s dedication is second to none. She has a passion for the sport and the horses, and without her my dreams wouldn’t have come true.”
The Horse Dialog Club of the Year title went to Royal Artillery Thorney Island, founded in 1985, which was described by some of its 900 members as “an outstanding organisation”.
Olivia Robertson, who started volunteering to help young eventer Hannah Francis and her Willberry Wonder Pony Charity, and is now a youth ambassador for British Dressage, won the Prime Stables Volunteer of the Year award.
If you want to keep up with the latest from the equestrian world without leaving home, grab a H&H subscription
The Balanced Horse Feeds Pony of the Year award went to miniature Shetland therapy pony Smurf, who may be blind but has transformed the lives of hundreds of lives and people with dementia.
Course-builder Bob Ellis was chosen as the recipient of the H&H Lifetime Achievement Award.
Sarah said: “All the shortlisted attendees at the awards have phenomenal support from their peers and fans and I hope they realised that on the night.
“Our winners were all deservingly so, but with stiff competition and any of those shortlisted would have been hugely worthy. This was our biggest awards yet and we’re grateful to our sponsors again for enabling the event to take place, it is proving a perfect ceremony to recognise those achievements our readers most appreciate.”
Would you like to read Horse & Hound’s independent journalism without any adverts? Join Horse & Hound Plus today and you can read all articles on HorseandHound.co.uk completely ad-free