‘I thought, “what will be, will be!”’: Que Sera heads public vote to win prestigious award

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  • The aptly named Que Sera was crowned The Jockey Club Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) Horse of the Year in recognition of his incredible versatility as a family horse.

    The 14-year-old gelding, owned and ridden by Jo and Ben Hales and their children, topped the public vote to be awarded the prestigious prize at the RoR awards at The Jockey Club rooms (31 January).

    The family bought him from Philip Hobbs in 2017 and he has excelled in multiple disciplines, hunted with three packs and embraced his role as a family horse. He has helped raise hundreds of pounds for charity, overcome a severe injury to return to work, and won numerous dressage and side-saddle showing titles.

    “I’ve never had a horse that’s been quite so consistently successful as he has,” said Jo. “I can count on one hand the times he’s come home without a rosette, and there’s always been a reason, it’s usually my fault! He has won four rugs, countless championships both side-saddle and dressage. But he’s equally happy to go cantering around a fun ride, to have a child riding him or nanny horses in the field.”

    Jo thanked her husband (“he’s his horse really, we bought him as his pointer”) and whoever gave the horse his name.

    “We really shouldn’t have bought another horse to add to our long collection,” she said. “But with his name and him being such a lovely horse, I went to go and see him.

    “He just had the most fantastic walk. I wasn’t able to ride him, just see him walking and have a look at him trotting on the lunge. With his temperament and his walk, I just thought, ‘Que Sera – what will be, will be!’”

    Sandy Dudgeon presents The Jockey Club RoR Horse of the Year trophy to Jo Hales. Credit: Dan Abraham.

    Presenting the award, Jockey Club senior steward Sandy Dudgeon quoted John Hislop, the late breeder, soldier, journalist and champion amateur, who said: “On the turf, there is only one rightful king, the racehorse and if he is not served in the manner due to him, neither he nor his kingdom will prosper.”

    Sandy added: “I think that is one of the great quotes of our sport. Although John died 30 years ago, he would have been inspired by everything all of you here have achieved since RoR’s formation 24 years ago, and all in the room this evening.”

    The inaugural Sir Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust Community Impact Award was won by former double Group One winner Goldream and racehorse rehabilitation and rehoming centre New Beginnings.

    The 2019 Cheltenham Foxhunter and prolific British point-to-point winner Hazel Hill, owned by Diane and Jane Williams, won the show supreme champion title. The show series champion accolade was won by Wonga Swinger, owned and ridden by Tori Thomas. Megan Brown’s pint-sized Don Stefano, who is competing at intermediate, claimed the eventing prize. Sara Cork collected the hunting award on behalf of Celtic Silver, who had much point-to-pointing success with Tom Ellis and Gina Andrews before a career change. Jane Phillips’ advanced medium mare Fair Duchess won the dressage award, Amanda Hamley’s More Salutes took the endurance crown, with Chris Mackenzie’s Badalona Breeze, produced by Charles Seavill, claiming the polo prize.

    • Do you have a retrained racehorse success story? Send your thoughts to hhletters@futurenet.com, including your name, nearest town and country, for a chance for your letter to appear in a forthcoming issue of the magazine

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