Popular ex-racer is awarded the top prize at the RoR Awards

The winner of the 2016 RoR Horse of the Year has been awarded to the popular grey, Monet’s Garden, at the 2016 Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) Awards, in Newmarket.

Held at The Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket and hosted by RoR Patron Clare
Balding and Luke Harvey, a total of 11 awards were given on the night. The awards
celebrate the versatility and adaptability of former racehorses with trophies and
total prize money of £17,500 going to the year’s elite champions in dressage,
endurance, eventing, polo, showing and show jumping.

 The Jockey Club’s Amy Starkey, second left, presents the award for RoR Horse of the Year to the connections of Monet’s Garden.

 The Jockey Club’s Amy Starkey, second left, presents the award for RoR Horse of the Year to the connections of Monet’s Garden.

This year, it was felt that The Jockey Club sponsored ‘RoR Horse of the Year’ award, for the horse adjudged to have been the best ambassador for the retraining of racehorses could only go to Monet's Garden.

The winner of 17 of his 32 starts, Monet’s Garden enjoyed an illustrious racing career
and was already established as a firm favourite with the racing public when in 2011
the gelding showed great courage in overcoming a life threatening illness that had
developed from a hoof infection.

Jo Richards, daughter of trainer of Monet’s Garden, Nicky Richards, was by the gelding’s side throughout his illness and retrained Monet’s Garden for a second career in the show-ring where he has won a number of RoR classes, including at this year’s RoR National Championship Show at Aintree.

Together with Monet’s Garden’s owner, David Wesley Yates, Jo Richards stepped up
to accept the award and said: “He’s 18 now but you’d think he was a five year old,
he’s never changed, he’s never aged. He’s always been a real showman, even
throughout his racing career, and so I thought showing would suit him.

“I was five months pregnant when we won the class this summer at Aintree and so
he was carrying two passengers that day. He’s amazing, the horse of a lifetime. He
would have done any job, he’s very talented and he’s got that enthusiasm to want to
be the best in whatever he does.”

Jo added: “I can’t thank David Wesley Yates enough for allowing me to keep Monet
at home and it’s wonderful that after all the horse went through with his injury he’s
able to have such an active life.

“I think RoR is brilliant. I know there are many show producers that have been
working with thoroughbreds for years but RoR has made so many more people
realise that former racehorses can go on to do a huge range of disciplines and horses
that would otherwise have been wasted in a field are now living healthy, active

Among the evening’s other award winners, there were some wonderful stories of
former racehorses that have only found their true niche once tried in a different

Retraining of Racehorses logo

This year there were also special recognition awards to mark the achievements of
Rio 2016 star, Summon Up The Blood, and the members of the Great Britain
Horseball team who had competed at the 2016 Horseball World Cup on former
racehorses. Trainer Nicky Henderson was also present to see an award given to Jack
The Giant, the horse he formerly trained and which since retiring from racing has
become a champion in the show-ring.

The award for RoR Elite Dressage Champion went to Jimmy Hay, who has been
retrained by Jenny Bulmer, who works as an on-course bookmaker’s clerk in the
West Country. Jenny’s patience with Jimmy Hay has been rewarded as the horse has
developed and steadily improved and in 2016 they performed over 100 British
Dressage tests.

Equally busy in 2016 was the Elite Showjumping Champion, I’m A Bird, who
remarkably won over 40 classes during the year. Like Jimmy Hay, I’m A Bird had an
undistinguished career on the racecourse, but in the care of Anneli Larsson, she has

Of I’m A Bird, Anneli Larsson said: “I have to be honest, I had never really been a
thoroughbred fan until I ended up with Jemila (I’m A Bird). She is the kindest, easiest
horse to handle and has the biggest heart out of any horse I have ever ridden. She is
so honest to ride and tries her hardest for you and is extremely brave. She loves to
jump and is just so happy when she is in the ring.

The Elite Endurance Champion, Arabian History, raced once in the colours of
Godolphin when ridden by Frankie Dettori in a Nottingham maiden. Rehomed with
Claire Freedman through the Godolphin Rehoming Programme, and nicknamed
‘Frankie’, Arabian History has climbed the ranks of Endurance riding and now
competes in 50-mile rides.

The winner of the RoR Elite Polo Champion was Dancing Daisy. Produced by Ali
Paterson who started riding Dancing Daisy when he was still in pony club, the mare
has progressed to be one of the leading polo ponies in the world and is now based in
Argentina where she has played at the highest level under Uruguayan polo star
David Pelon Stirling.

The former Elite Racing owned Director General was awarded RoR Elite Eventing
Champion. His early re-education was conducted by Albertine Barker, who still owns
the horse but he is now ridden in competition by Neil Spratt who believes the nineyear-
old has the potential to go right to the top in eventing.

Beware Chalk Pit won both of the Elite Showing awards. The 12-year-old is jointly
owned by Ann Leftley, who owned him when he was in-training with Jonathan
Geake, and Rebecca Court, who now rides him. This season Beware Chalk Pit won
the RoR Show Series Championship at Hickstead, sponsored by Tattersalls, and was
judged RoR Supreme Champion at the National Championship Show at Aintree.

On receiving her awards, Rebecca Court said: “As soon as we started working
together we all knew straight away he was going to be a star. Although, I'm not sure
any of us imagined just how well he would do in such a short space of time. Our
target next year will be the Horse of the Year Show.”

The 2016 RoR Awards in full:

  • RoR Elite Dressage Champion – Jimmy Hay
  • Ridden and Owned by Jenny Bulman. Prize £2,500
  • RoR Elite Showjumping Champion – I’m A Bird
  • Ridden and Owned by Anneli Larsson. Prize £2,500
  • RoR Elite Eventing Champion – Director General
  • Ridden by Neil Spratt. Owned by Albertine Barker. Prize £2,500
  • RoR Elite Polo Champion – Dancing Daisy
  • Produced by Ali Paterson. Prize £2,500
  • RoR Elite Show Series Supreme Champion – Beware Chalk Pit
  • Ridden by Rebecca Court. Owned by Ann Leftley and Rebecca Court. Prize £2,500
  • RoR Elite Show Series Champion sponsored by Tattersalls – – Beware Chalk Pit
  • Ridden by Rebecca Court. Owned by Ann Leftley and Rebecca Court. Prize £2,500
  • RoR Elite Endurance Champion – Arabian History
  • Ridden and Owned by Claire Freeman. Prize £2,500
  • The Award for The Jockey Club RoR Horse of the Year Champion – Monet’s Garden,
  • Ridden by Jo Richards. Owned by David Wesley Yates.

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