RoR Horse of the Year announced at inaugural RoR Awards Ceremony

Retrained racehorse 13-year-old Whatcanyasay was named The Jockey Club/ RoR Horse of the Year at the RoR Awards ceremony, which was held at The Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket on Wednesday 26th November 2014. The inaugural RoR Awards was organised by RoR and awarded prizes totalling £16,500 and presented trophies to each of the 2014 RoR Elite Series’ Champions.

Winning the ‘RoR Horse of the Year’ came as a genuine surprise to Whatcanyasay’s owner, 23 year-old Robyn Gray as RoR Patron Clare Balding, who co-presented the evening with Willie Carson, announced it. The perpetual RoR Horse of the Year Champion’s Trophy, as well as VIP tickets to the opening day of 2015 Cheltenham Festival were presented to Robyn by Stephen Wallis, Group Director of International and Racing Relations for The Jockey Club, the sponsors of this prestigious new award.

RoR Chief Executive, Di Arbuthnot said; “RoR chose to recognise Whatcanyasay because he has achieved so much since he retired from racing, taking part in RoR series of competitions to great success and retraining in such a diverse range of equestrian sports.”

Whatcanyasay was in training with Evelyn Slack and ran 46 times over hurdles and fences winning on four occasions, until he retired from racing in 2011. Since his retirement Whatcanyasay has excelled in his new career with the RoR series of competitions, competing in a range of equine disciplines including eventing, cross country, hunting and dressage but says Robyn, his forte is in Showing. 

In his first season, he won 2012 RoR Scottish Championship at The Royal Highland, RoR/TBA Challenge Class at Aintree and was also Champion at Hambleton District Show, as well as qualifying for the Open Pony Dressage Club Championships. 

In 2013, Whatcanyasay finished in sixth place at the high-profile Horse of the Year Show just behind the Queen’s Horse Barber Shop. Just three weeks later, he entered the RoR Meriel Tuffnell Racing to Hunting Challenge at Cheltenham Racecourse finishing in second place. This year, at the RoR/TBA Retrained Racehorse Challenge Final at the 2014 Royal Windsor Horse Show in May he was second and the following month in June won the RoR/Tattersalls Scottish Show Series Championship at the Royal Highland Show.

Robyn Gray and her sisters, Melanie and Jodie from Cumbria who were also at the RoR Awards have known “Doofer’ - as Whatcanyasay is affectionately known - since he was a two-year old;  “ We used to muck out at Evelyn Slack’s stables in Appleby, so we have known him most of his life. He was always our favourite at the yard so when we were offered the chance to buy him after his retirement, we jumped at the opportunity.”

The presentation of the Awards to the RoR Elite Champions and the addition of the new RoR Horse of the Year, provides a focus to celebrate the achievements of the thousands of former racehorses competing successfully in equestrian disciplines and shows both the adaptability and versatility of former racehorses retraining for life after racing in new careers. The full results of the 2014 RoR Elite Awards are as follows: -

  • RoR Elite Endurance Champion: CORALKOV 8-y-o gelding. Ridden & Owned by: Juliet Jacob, Norfolk.
  • RoR Elite Eventing Champions:
    Joint Winner: ORTOLAN 9-y-o gelding. Ridden by: Polly Stockton, Cheshire. Owned by: Stella and Allan Stennett.
    Joint Winner: SQUADRON LEADER 11 y-o gelding. Ridden by: Daniele Bizzaro, Gloucestershire. Owned by: Jane Arnold.
  • RoR Elite Dressage Champion: AUSTIN APPROVED 15-y-o gelding. Ridden & Owned by: Sandie Newton, Cornwall.
  • RoR Elite HOYS Show Series Champion: FLAYGRAY 10-y-o gelding. Ridden & Owned by: Faye Hesketh, Lancashire.
  • RoR Elite Show Series Champion: JACK THE GIANT 12-y-o gelding. Ridden by: Allister Hood from Norfolk. Owned by: The Jackpots Syndicate.
  • RoR Elite Show Jumping Champion: CAPTAIN WILLOUGHBY 13-y-o gelding. Ridden & Owned by: Joanne Fulcher, Kent.         
  • RoR Elite Polo Champion: FILLE DE DAUPHIN (Marmite) 16-y-o mare. Ridden & Owned by: Mark Tomlinson
  • The Jockey Club/RoR Horse of the Year - Champion: WHATCANYSAY 13-y-o gelding. Ridden & Owned by: Robyn Gray, Cumbria.