Art tutor a picture of happiness as Beware Chalk Pit is Horse of the Year
Beware Chalk Pit, the former racehorse who took his amateur rider to the heights of the showing world, was named Horse of the Year at the Retraining of Racehorses awards in Newmarket on Monday night.
The 13-year-old gelding was a two-time winner over fences during a seven-year career on the track with Jonathan Geake, but since his retirement in 2015 he has rapidly ascended the ranks of the show ring in partnership with Rebecca Court, who works full-time as an art tutor at Birmingham University.
The 2016 Hickstead Champion and Supreme Champion at the RoR National Championships, Beware Chalk Pit has this year won 11 times and rounded off his season with victory at the Horse of the Year Show, being crowned Racehorse to Riding Horse Champion.
Court, who lined up alongside the likes of Big Buck's, Denman and Long Run on the horse she calls Pete at an RoR parade at this year's Cheltenham Festival, said: "Beware Chalk Pit and I have achieved so many things together, first-time experiences for both of us.
RoR award winners
Horse of the Year Beware Chalk Pit
Elite Dressage Champion Jimmy Hay
Elite Polo Champion Harmony Wold
Elite Eventing Champion Gold Nugget
Elite Endurance Champion Karactacus Potts
Elite Performance Award for Showing Wild West
Show Series Champion Imperial Ruby
Elite Showjumping Award Quel Ange
Racing to Hunting Challenge Brumous
Special Recognition Award Barbers Shop
"Before Pete, I had never ridden in the main ring at Hickstead, never won a series final, never ridden in a Supreme Championship – let alone won one – never qualified for Horse of the Year show, never beaten a professional rider and certainly never ridden at Cheltenham. What a once-in-a-lifetime experience that parade at the festival was.
"Together we've done all those things and more. This special horse owes me nothing, I owe him everything. He's my horse of a lifetime.”
Beware Chalk Pit has now retired from competitive showing and returned to his owner Ann Leftley in Marlborough.
Other winners at the awards, hosted by RoR patron Clare Balding and ITV Racing's Luke Harvey at the Jockey Club Rooms, included the Queen's Barbers Shop, an eight-time winner for Nicky Henderson who was crowned Royal Windsor Supreme Ridden Champion this year and received the RoR Special Recognition Award.
RoR chief executive Di Arbuthnot said: “Seeing the delight on the faces of the award winners and hearing their backstories and their triumphs over adversity is not only very heart-warming, it is also reassuring in terms of the strategy we have undertaken in recent years."
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