The votes have been counted and the champagne is flowing – the winners of the 2018 Horse & Hound Awards have been announced.
After the H&H panel sifted through the hundreds of nominations and drew up shortlists in nine of the 10 categories, the finalists were announced – and 24,000 people voted for their favourites.
The H&H lifetime achievement award, the only one decided upon by the H&H team, went to former top rider, leading cross-country course-designer and renowned trainer Mark Phillips, who was described as “truly a great man” and “one of the greatest cross-country course-designers in the world”.
Eventer Ros Canter took the Neue Schule professional rider of the year title, after she secured individual and team gold medals at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in September, on her own and Caroline Moore’s Allstar B.
The Feedmark horse of the year title went to Arctic Soul, owned by the Soul Syndicate, the former racehorse whom Gemma Tattersall rode to team gold at WEG this year, as well as fourth place at Badminton.
Jane Felton, who works for Irish eventer Jonty Evans, took the Horseware groom of the year award. Jonty cited her as an “incredible friend”, who has been running the yard since he suffered a serious brain injury in a fall this summer.
Tim and Jonelle Price were voted winners of the Griffin Nuu Med moment of the year, as the married couple who took both British CCI4* events this year – Jonelle won Badminton on Classic Moet and Tim took the Burghley victory on Ringwood Sky Boy.
The Saracen Horse Feeds young rider of the year award went to Charlotte Fry, 22, who led the British dressage team to bronze at the under-25 dressage European Championships this summer, going on to take individual gold, on Dark Legend.
Vet Katie Preston was named Pikeur amateur rider of the year, in honour of her achievements completing her first CCI4* at Luhmühlen in June, then going on to finish in 24th place at Burghley in September, on Templar Justice.
Daisy Sadler, who travelled nearly 1,000 miles from Banbury via Edinburgh to The Kelpies and back with her Belgian draft horses Olive and Arthur to raise more than £21,000 for the Imogen Whitby Fund as part of the Brain Tumour charity, was named the Absorbine inspiration of the year.
The Balanced Horse Feeds volunteer of the year was Keith Watkins, who has been a volunteer cross-country starter for British Eventing since 1989, and now covers the southwest region, including Bicton and Pontispool.
The 2018 eVetDrug vet of the year is Alistair Field, of Field Equine Vets in Worcestershire, who was described by a client as “an excellent and thorough vet who always puts horses’ welfare first”.
The HorseDialog club of the year award went to Aberdeen Riding Club, which has some 500 members and a “supportive community” feel.
H&H editor-in-chief Sarah Jenkins paid tribute to the winners.
“Twenty-four thousand people voted for those who were shortlisted for this year’s Horse & Hound awards, which is testament to the strength of feeling among Horse & Hound’s readers, users and followers towards their heroes,” she said.
Watch as riders and family explain just why Nick deserved the win — and hear from our other worthy winners
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Sarah continued: “Some of these heroes have won medals and reached the top of their game, others have changed owners’ lives through the treatment of their horses, the tireless unpaid effort they put into making the sport better for others, or the support and sense of community they offer.
“Each is extremely worthy of our praise and respect and I’d like to add my own congratulations to each of our fantastic winners at this year’s awards.”
For a full report on all the winners, don’t miss next week’s H&H magazine, out 15 November.