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24 January 2023

First Fandango awarded The Jockey Club ROR Horse of the Year award

Over 150 guests from the racing and equestrian worlds gathered on Saturday evening to celebrate some special former racehorses. The prestigious annual Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) awards took place at the historic Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket, at which The Jockey Club ROR Horse of the Year, First Fandango was crowned.

Emotions ran high in the audience as hosts Clare Balding, the ROR Patron, and trainer Richard Phillips detailed the horses’ careers both during and after racing, particularly those of the three finalists. Among those in contention for the prestigious Horse of the Year award were former Grand National hero Pineau de Re, now 20, Skipper Robbin the 17-year-old social media star and First Fandango, 16, who won over £69,000 of prize money during his racing career.

Clare Balding with Hannah Chisman, William Fox Grant and Lizzie Brunt – The Jockey Club Horse of the Year 2022 Finalists ROR Awards 21.1.23
Pic Dan

On choosing the eventual winner Clare Balding said: “What an impossible choice! I was very torn but I chose First Fandango because he’s so versatile and not altogether straightforward but Hannah’s hard work with him has clearly paid off. It’s great to see how much happiness these horses are bringing and how well they adapt.”

Tough and Versatile

Originally trained by Tim Vaughan, the son of Hernando ran 50 times including four Cheltenham Festival appearances and it is a testament to his toughness and temperament that aged 16 ‘Fredstar’ has now retrained and competed in team chases, British Eventing, British Showjumping, hunting, dressage and Showing. It is in this latter sphere that the bay gelding excels, winning the Tattersalls RoR Amateur Special Series at the RoR National Championship Show two years running, the RoR Amateur Series at Hickstead in 2021 and two second placings at Horse of the Year Show.

Hannah Chisman, travelling head girl for trainer John Spearing, has put an incredible amount of time and patience into his retraining and this award is a credit to all her hard work. On receiving the award from Sulekha Varma of The Jockey Club, Hannah said: “I honestly can’t believe it! Fredstar is my absolute world. He is part of the family and has given me some of the best days of my life. Just doing what I do every day with him is already a win for me and we all love him.”

Of his versatility Hannah went on to explain: “He can show one day, then event the next, and he has even taught my six-year-old old boy how to ride! He’s always given me his all in everything we do – from herding cows to showing off at the Horse of the Year!”

Sulekha Varma presenting Hannah Chisman with The Jockey Club Horse of the Year 2022 for First Fandango ROR Awards 21.1.23
Pic Dan

Second Careers

Retraining racehorses and celebrating their second careers once their lives on the track are finished is an incredibly important element of the thoroughbred industry. David Catlow, Managing Director of RoR said: “The presentation of the Awards to the RoR Elite Champions and the Horse of the Year, provides a focus for the charity to celebrate the achievements of the thousands of former racehorses competing successfully in equestrian disciplines and highlights their adaptability and versatility retraining for life after racing in new careers.”

The full list of award winners are:
RoR Elite Dressage Champion – MY DISS SIRE owned and ridden by Judith Barker
RoR Elite Polo Champion – FAR SONG, owned and ridden by Hazel Jackson-Genoa
RoR Elite Endurance Champion – LILBOURNE PRINCE, ridden and owned by Sam Tomlinson
RoR Elite Supreme Show Series Champion – RICH MAN POOR MAN, owned by Morean Hamilton and ridden by Kirstine Douglas
RoR Tattersalls Elite Show Series Champion – TIME DOWN UNDER, owned and ridden by Justine Armstrong-Small
RoR Elite Eventing Champion – FINCH FANCY, owned by Ben Liles, Phil Ainsworth and Charlie May Ainsworth and ridden by Ben Liles
RoR Racing to Hunting Champion – TRIBUNEL, owned and ridden by Vicky Heal

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