The recipient of the RoR Special Recognition Award at the 2016 Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards held last night (Monday 22nd February) in London was Jo Mason. The award is given by the charity to an individual who works in the racing industry who has made a particular contribution to promoting the versatility and adaptability of racehorses in their careers after racing.
Jo Mason, 25, is a successful amateur rider based in North Yorkshire with 15 winners under rules to her name. Last March Jo crushed and fractured vertebrae in a fall in a Point to Point and her father is convinced that the bond she has with former racehorse Liverpool played a key part in her remarkable recovery.
Just five weeks after leaving hospital and an operation in which eight pins and two rods were inserted into her back, Jo was back on board riding Liverpool.
As Ian Mason, Jo’s father, says: “She started riding him a long time before she should have done, but he was just like a big friend to her and I am sure it was one of the main reasons for her speedy recovery.”
Liverpool was originally trained under rules by Jo’s grandfather, Mick Easterby. After being given to Jo and her father Ian, Liverpool went on to win Point to Pointing before being retired in 2010 to the hunting field. However, Jo had other plans and started showing Liverpool in the summer months and the pair enjoyed considerable success in several of the RoR Series of competitions, including the RoR Hunting Series final and the RoR Elite Series finals at both Hickstead and Windsor.
It was while Jo was recovering from her back injury that she had the idea of riding side-saddle on Liverpool. By July Jo was back out competing on Liverpool and in their first side-saddle class at the Great Yorkshire Show they finished fourth. A month later, Liverpool competed at the RoR National Championship Show at the Aintree International Equestrian Centre where they won the RoR/TARRA Ridden Qualifier class and finished third in the side-saddle class. On the previous evening at Redcar, Jo had won the amateur rider’s race on her grandfather’s horse Felix De Vega.
Under Jo’s care and training, Liverpool has excelled in a range of disciplines and his success across the board was acknowledged when the now 14 year-old gelding was named The Jockey Club RoR Horse of the Year for 2015.
RoR Chief Executive, Di Arbuthnot said; “We chose to recognise Jo because she has done such a wonderful job with Liverpool and because she showed great bravery and determination in overcoming her back injury. She is an inspiration and her relationship with Liverpool is special. He is such a great all-rounder, whether it be hunting, showing, jumping or side-saddle he epitomizes the adaptability and versatility of racehorses.”
Jo Mason, said: “I am so pleased to have won this RoR award, it’s a real honour. RoR are an amazing charity, they put on so many events and create so many opportunities for former racehorses to find a second career that they can thrive in.”
The Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards ceremony took place at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in London’s Knightsbridge in front of a specially invited audience from across the racing industry to celebrate the vital role of stud and stable staff in the racing industry.
To see the film about Jo and Liverpool see below