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‘A stalwart of showjumping’: Bob Ellis wins Horse & Hound Lifetime Achievement Award

The fourth annual Horse & Hound Awards concluded with the presentation of the Horse & Hound Lifetime Achievement Award to course-designer Bob Ellis.

“This year our award goes to a man who can truly be described as an enduring figure in our sport, one who has seen it change immeasurably and been part of that change,” said H&H editor-in-chief Sarah Jenkins at the ceremony at Cheltenham racecourse on Wednesday night (4 December).

As Bob was unable to pick up the award himself, Great Britain’s showjumping team manager Di Lampard took to the stage on his behalf.

Bob is the fourth recipient of the award, which has also gone to Nick Skelton, winner of the award in 2016 after winning the individual gold medal at the Rio Olympics, posthumously to the 11th Duke of Beaufort in 2017, and last year it was Captain Mark Phillips who collected the prestigious trophy.

In a video played in front of a distinguished room of guests and other award-winners, heartfelt tributes were paid to Bob by double Olympic gold medallist Nick Skelton, four-time Hickstead Derby winner William Funnell and Hickstead organiser Edward Bunn.

“This award could not go to a nicer, more genuine, more honest person,” said Nick.

Eventer Pippa Funnell said that, as a teenage rosette girl at Olympia and Horse of the Year Show, she “never dreamed that one day I’d be jumping some of Bob’s courses.”

Hickstead organiser Lizzie Bunn called Bob a “stalwart of British showjumping and international course-building for so many years, and particularly at Hickstead.”

Bob started out as an international rider and only began course-building while working for Steve Hadley. He made his professional debut in 1975 at Horse of the Year Show and went on to forge a highly acclaimed career as one of the very best in his field.

He designed the tracks for pony, junior, young rider and senior championships, World Cups and Nations Cups with perhaps his crowning moment coming at the Olympic Games in London in 2012.

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Bob has earned the huge respect of riders at all levels, as well has helping to mentor the next generation of course-builders. This year, at the age of 72, he made the decision to take a step back from course-building at all bar a handful of shows.

As the tributes show, he is a very worthy winner of Horse & Hound’s fourth lifetime achievement award.

Read more about the fourth H&H Awards in next week’s magazine, out Thursday 12 December.

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