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25 January 2022

Poignant winner of RoR Horse Personality of the Year Award – ‘He was my rock’

The RoR Awards held in Newmarket last weekend celebrated the special horse human connection and the Horse Personality of the Year award went to a very special winner.

The category attracted over 200 nominations and was judged by Flat star, Hollie Doyle. The event was held at The Jockey Club Rooms and celebrated the achievements of former racehorses across different disciplines.

The horse selected as the winner of the Horse Personality of the Year award was the 12 year-old gelding Henri De Boistron, who came into his owner Anastasia Choma’s life a year before she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Henri was retired in 2015 after being trained by Tom George; he had 11 starts and one success. Following her treatment, Anastasia and Henri hacked 100km in October 2020 to raise money for Breast Cancer Now. She raised over £2,000 and now, cancer free, hopes to event him next season. 

After receiving the award Anastasia Choma said: “In 2019, my life came crashing down around me and I was thrown into a whole new terrifying world of hospital appointments, surgeries and chemotherapy.

“Fortunately, I was able to continue looking after and riding Henri throughout my treatment and a hack with Henri would always help with the brain fog following chemo and he looked after me, put a smile on my face and kept me going.

“Winning this award is very special. It’s well-deserved for Henri, who was my rock through my cancer treatment. His temperament is testament to how incredible former racehorses are. It would all have been so much harder without him. I am so grateful to him and I’m looking forward to a long and happy future together.”

Watch Anastasia and Henri’s story here: 

YouTube player

Judge Hollie Doyle said: “I loved how understanding Henri was in helping Anastasia through her treatment and recovery, how he responded to her when she was feeling weak or unwell. It really goes to show how sensitive horses can be and how good the rider and horse’s relationship must be.”

Connections of the two runners-up for RoR Horse Personality of the Year were present on the night: Esmé Foster, the rider of Daffern Seal, and Kerry Humphries, the rider of One Pekan. Both stories again showcased the bond that exists between horse and rider.

RoR Chief Executive, Di Arbuthnot, said: “Particularly moving were the stories behind the three finalists for RoR Horse Personality of the Year. In each case the horse in question has had a profound impact on the lives of people around them and they were powerful reminders of the value of developing a connection with a thoroughbred.”

The night was hosted by Sky Sports Racing’s Hayley Moore and trainer Richard Phillips and saw Elite Awards given to winners across six equine disciplines showcasing the thoroughbred’s versatility. Jockey Club CEO, Nevin Truesdale presented the award for RoR Elite Supreme Show Series Champion to Katie Dashwood owner of Minella Rebellion. Both Showing awards acknowledged the support given to RoR by its sponsors The Jockey Club and Tattersalls. The winner of the RoR Elite Eventing Champion was taken by owner and rider of Our Old Fella, Jayne McGivern and Piggy March (Team GB rider). Although the horse failed to shine racing he has accumulated more British Eventing points than any other former racehorse competing at Novice level or above. 

The full list of 2021 Elite Award winners is as follows:

  • RoR Elite Dressage Champion – Crewzando, owned and ridden by Patricia Hoskins
  • RoR Elite Polo Champion – Les Soeurs, owned and ridden by Matt Perry 
  • RoR Elite Endurance Champion – He’s A Charmer, ridden and owned by Lynn Harvey
  • RoR Elite Supreme Show Series Champion – Minella Rebellion, owned and ridden by Katie Dashwood
  • RoR Tattersalls Elite Champion – Mumford, ridden by Collette McGoldrick
  • RoR Elite Eventing Champion – Our Old Fella, owned by Jayne McGivern, ridden by Piggy March
  • RoR Racing to Hunting Challenge winner – Sire Collonges, owned and ridden by Tom Jonason
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