On Saturday 10th January breeders of the top British-bred horses from around the country converged in London at the Grange City Hotel, for the annual British Breeders Dinner and Awards Ceremony, organised by the British Horse Foundation. There has been much to celebrate for British Breeding in 2014 and this glittering occasion affords the breeders of these potential world-class horses the special recognition they deserve.
Guests arrived at the Competition Stallions-sponsored drinks reception before moving on to a sumptuous four-course dinner, followed by invited guest speaker Lynne Crowden, who gave a very entertaining and insightful speech on the Peaks, Perils and Pitfalls of being a British breeder. The evening then moved on to the much-anticipated Awards ceremony, compéred by event commentator Chris Otty, standing in for Mike Tucker.
Young, professional and amateur breeders were well represented throughout the Awards Ceremony in the Baileys Horse Feeds/British Breeding/BEF Futurity Certificates of Merit. Winners included for the second year running Kirsty Millard, this year for her sports pony foal KMD Dornlight along with Amy Cox who bred Pretty Picture, they were the joint winning sports pony foals.
Certificates of Merit were also awarded for the highest scorers in each age group at the Futurity Eventing Championships held at Osberton.
In the Futurity age awards, Rosie Moreton-Deakin picked up the foal award for breeding Fiderstar, a potential dressage prospect. Zoe Feeney collected the yearling award for Just Soda No Ice, a show jumping prospect. The two-year old award went to Summertime Blues bred by Lynne Crowden, with the three year old award going to Timolin, who was winning a Futurity award for the third time, bred by Aram Gregory, this colt is destined for a dressage and stud career, having recently been purchased by Catherston Stud.
Young horse awards were then presented to breeders of the best British bred young horses in the three main equestrian disciplines; Dressage, Eventing and Showjumping.
The Young Horse Awards for the three disciplines saw a range of breeders step forward to collect their awards. Amongst the winners was Sharon Bishop who now has three British Eventing Young Horse Breeders Medals as breeder of Parkfield Quintessential; the four year-old, five year-old and now six year-old winner of this prestigious award. River Rise Escarla took the five year-old dressage award, bred by Sarah Tyler Evans. The Billy Stud collected the five year-old and seven year-old British Eventing Young Horse Breeders Medals On for Billy Walk On and Billy Cuckoo - and the five year-old showjumping award for Billy On Ice. Paul Strafford collected the six year old showjumping award for D Hollinwoods Rusty Ryan; whilst Shirley Light of Brendon Stud collected the seven year-old showjumping award for Unbelievable Lady.
The British Equestrian Federation Award to the Highest Placed British Bred Horse in Team GBR at the Alltech World Equestrian Games went to the vaulting horse W H Bentley, bred by James Grant and owned by John Eccles.
The Sport Horse Breeding of Great Britain Special Award was is in recognition of the achievements that the British-bred Opposition Buzz had achieved in his eventing career with his rider Nicola Wilson. Sadly only a few weeks after retiring from the sport, the beloved ‘Dodi’ suffered a seizure and was put to sleep on veterinary grounds. A true testament to his popularity in Yorkshire is that BBC Look North broke the news of Dodi’s untimely death on its late news slot. His breeder/owner Rosemary Search was on hand to collect his award together with a montage of images from his career.
A new category this year was the Haddon Training British Grooms Award and the Haddon Training Team GBR Grooms Award.
Caroline Heard was the recipient of the Haddon Training British Grooms Award that was open to all grooms in the equestrian industry, with Nicola Newman being awarded the runners-up prize after the judging panel had found it difficult to split these two outstanding nominees and therefore a decision was made to award a runners-up prize.
The Haddon Training Team GBR Grooms Award was open to any groom who was part of Team GBR at the Alltech World Equestrian Games 2014 and supported any Team GBR athlete. The award went to Jessica Errington who groomed for Harry Meade and the sadly departed Wild Lone, with Harry citing on his nomination form how Jessica had dedicated her life to Wild Lone and had handled an extremely difficult situation with huge dignity.
The Horse & Hound Outstanding Mare Award went to the Suffolk mare Whitton Daisy, owned by Tom and Sandy Walne, who were genuinely surprised and thrilled to be the recipients of this prestigious award and who were cheered and clapped onto the stage by a delighted audience. The runner-up was Purdy, bred by Graham Worrell, who was the dam of Equestrian Para Dressage horse Purdy’s Dream and granddam of John Whittaker’s Argento.
The culmination of the evening was the SEIB Meritoire, this annual award is presented as recognition for a lifetime’s contribution to the breeding industry. The Award was to be presented to Richard Meade who very sadly passed away the day before. The occasion was taken to present a celebration of the life of a great gentleman, equestrian and friend of many in the room. Richard’s contribution to breeding was immense, having been a top level competitor himself, he acted as a link between breeding and competition riding and was instrumental in the development of the first breeding strategy for the country and setting up the Supporters of British Breeding. Chair of the British Horse Foundation, Richard and the Trustees supported many breeding and young horse initiatives. His foresight and ability to motivate and coordinate groups of people was inspiring. Richard was aware that he had won the award before he became very ill and the Meritoire will be presented to Richard’s family when they feel able to receive it.