The annual Animal Health Trust (AHT) UK Equestrian Awards brought together British and equestrian royalty as they hosted this year’s event at The London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square on Tuesday 31 October.
AHT’s long standing President and avid horse enthusiast, HRH The Princess Royal, welcomed professional riders, leading equine vets and horse welfare specialists to this year’s special anniversary event. The Trust’s work over the last 75 years has aimed at improving the health and welfare of all equines, from elite competition horses to beloved family ponies. The event was the perfect forum to celebrate the Trust’s vital research into equine infectious diseases and injuries, which has supported many of the guests present, ensuring the good health of horses today and in the future. In particular, the Princess highlighted some of the charity’s greatest achievements – including the pioneering use of MRI for animals, huge steps forward in treating skin cancers in horses, and the Trust’s contribution to our Olympic and Paralympic teams in keeping their equine athletes safe and in the best form.
This event is not only a wonderful exhibition of equestrian excellence, but is an essential fundraiser for the AHT to continue its work for benefit of dogs, cats and horses. Every penny of profit made or raised by the AHT is reinvested into their industry-leading science and care for animals.
Bet Solutions International Racing Award
Legendary racehorse trainer John Gosden - John started his career as assistant to champion trainer Sir Noel Murless and following that as assistant to Vincent O’Brien. John then moved to California and began training for himself, during which time he trained over 500 winners. In 1989, John returned to England to train at the renowned Stanley House Stables. During his career he has trained over 3,000 winners in England, Europe and America, including Enable, the winner of the 2017 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe just a few weeks ago.
Harvey Spack Field Dressage Award
Record breaking Para Team Trainer Michel Assouline - Michel has been a fundamental part of the team’s success over the last 12 years. During this time Britain has been unbeaten on the international stage and winning an incredible 121 medals in total, including 64 gold, 44 silver and 13 bronze. Michel became the UK Para-Equestrian Dressage Team Coach in 2005 and has led Team GBR riders to win Team Gold medals at six European Championships, three World Equestrian Games and three Paralympic Games between 2005 and 2017. In Rio last year, the team returned with a total of seven gold and four silver medals in all their classes contested, which was a record breaking result for our para riders.
British Showjumping Award
An incredible young talent Oliver Fletcher - Representing Great Britain at the Children’s European Championships in Samorin, Oliver won both Team Gold and Individual Bronze as a result of his superb performance across the championships. This year also saw Oliver win a Children’s International Grand Prix in Wierden riding Dahar. Thanks to his remarkable consistency in over 1 metre 50 classes, Oliver is the Leading Under 21 Rider in the British Showjumping leagues.
The impressive British Eventing Team: Nicola Wilson, Oliver Townend, Tina Cook and Rosalind Canter - At Strzegom this August, Great Britain's eventers won their first European Championships team gold since 2009. They finished 9.1 penalties clear of Germany, the defending champions; however, the win was not so straightforward. After the Dressage event, the German team had been in gold medal position, but an impressive performance by the British Team in the cross-country saw them lead going into the final showjumping stage.
Dr Reginald Wooldridge Veterinary Achievement Award
This year the judges have decided to award the outstanding veterinary achievement award to a person whose career has been dedicated to improving the health and welfare of racing thoroughbreds, Anthony Stirk - His input has been fundamental to the success of the UK’s various racing authorities’ fatal and long-term injury programmes. He began collecting and computerizing fatality data with Weatherby’s in 1999 and subsequently introduced a parallel system for recording long-term injuries. By ensuring that data has been collected rigorously ever since, it has been possible to introduce practical solutions to enable racecourses and race planners to reduce risk on the basis of evidence rather than speculation. As a direct consequence, racing fatalities have been reduced by one third in the last 20 years.
LGT Vestra Under 25 Star of the Future Award
A young lady who is going places in dressage, Charlotte Fry - In 2016 Charlotte took up the opportunity of a life time to be based in the Netherlands with iconic breeding stud and producers, Van Olst Horses and it has propelled her career to a new height. Her riding skill has evolved and she has been given some high profile rides at prestigious competitions, where she has more than held her own against dressage’s top names. In August, she travelled to the World Breeding Championships in Ermelo with three horses for the Van Olsts including one of the sport’s most promising young stallions, Everdale. She won the Prix St Georges and finished second in the Inter I in the ‘Stallion of the Year’ section.
SEIB Insurance Brokers Health And Welfare Award
The charity speaking out on Strangles, Redwings Horse Sanctuary – Following the worst Strangles outbreak in 30 years, Redwings was motivated by their experience and launched their ‘Speak out on Strangles’ campaign in 2016. The ‘Speak out on Strangles’ survey aimed to better understand what horse owners know about strangles and what they currently do to protect their horse. This information can be used to give horse owners more confidence in managing risk and a better understanding of how to work through an outbreak situation. The survey attracted almost 5,000 respondents and revealed that over 90% of owners believed that Strangles should be more of a priority in the UK. Most importantly, the success of the campaign has begun to breakdown the stigma surrounding Strangles and developed a united approach to loosening the disease’s grip on horses.
Animal Health Trust Special Award
With this award, the Animal Health Trust wants to thank Lady Harris for her tireless commitment to the health and welfare of animals. In 2014 she volunteered to chair the Committee for this very event, where she helmed the event for a very successful three years - in 2016 alone raising over £130,000 for the AHT.
“We’d like to thank everyone who attended the evening, bid online for an auction lot, or sponsored one of our awards,” says Director of Fundraising Kevin Clements. “You support is greatly appreciated – the dogs, cats and horses we help can’t thank you themselves, but we can! We look forward to the next 75 years in action.”
For more information about the event: www.aht.org.uk/equestrianawards