Jilly Cooper to judge former racehorses with ‘personality’ for special new award

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  • Jilly Cooper is to judge a new title at this year’s Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) awards, the “personality of the year”.

    The author will choose three finalists in the new category, formed in honour of owner and breeder Paul Mellon to mark the awards’ 20th anniversary.

    The award will go to a former racehorse with “great strength of character and personality in making the transition to a new life after racing”. 

    An RoR spokesman said: “RoR was privileged to receive a bequest of $3.5m from the estate of Paul Mellon, the owner of Mill Reef (the 1971 Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner) and countless other good racehorses. His legacy has been vital to establishing and funding RoR to promote the welfare of horses who have retired from racing.”  

    Nominations are open online until 28 November and Clare Blading will reveal the winners at the prestigious RoR Elite Awards evening at the Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket on Saturday, 18 January.

    RoR CEO Di Arbuthnot said: “We want to find a horse who has a personality that has displayed outstanding versatility, kindness and character, and that will represent the special bond, passion and great achievements of some of the thousands of former racehorses lovingly rehomed and retrained each year. 

    “We hear some great success stories from riders and we hope this award will get people talking passionately about the rewards of owning a former racehorse.”


    The news of the award comes as RoR is gearing up for its second annual showcase event, at Hartpury University on 23 November, at which top chaser Cue Card will be a special guest.

    Following the success of the first showcase at Aintree last year, the day will be an “inspirational training and educational event designed by RoR to highlight the talent and transition of thoroughbred racehorses to their second careers”.

    Visitors can watch clinics and demos, in dressage, eventing, endurance, natural horsemanship and western riding. Experts will share their knowledge discussing the racehorse as an athlete and its transition to a new career, using real racehorses. 

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    There will also be a guest appearance by Cue Card, who retired from racing last year and made his showing debut this year with Katie Jerram-Hunnable.

    Ms Arbuthnot said: “Last year’s event received fantastic feedback and we are delighted that the 2019 RoR Showcase will be held at Hartpury in Gloucestershire to offer riders in and around the midlands and southern regions the chance to come together and learn about owning and retraining former racehorses. The day will be a showcase for the work of the charity all under one roof with a host of experts and industry professionals from the racing and equine worlds.”

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