The former Oliver Sherwood trained, Brumous, ridden by Melanie Duff, came out on top in the Racing to Hunting Challange final at Aintree on their Countryside Day.
The final of the RoR Racing to Hunting Challenge saw five former racehorses make their way to the home of the Grand National on Sunday 29th October, to compete for a prize fund of £2,500.
Each of the finalists were required to take part in two judging stages throughout the day. The first part, which followed the Countryside Alliance charity race, was held in the racecourse Wash Down Area, in which head judge, Mike Tucker, created a challenging course.
After a quick warm up lap, the start of the test was signalled by a hunting horn and competitors jumped two jumps, including a large Oxer. They then had to open a small hunting gate, pass through it and close it before jumping the final jump. Despite the wind coming off the racecourse creating a swinging gate making the task more difficult, every horse stood very still and allowed their rider to negotiate with the gate.
The next stage preceded the second race of the day. Horse and riders gathered with the Holcombe Harriers before heading out on to the course for a hound parade. During the parade, the behaviour of each horse around hounds was judged.
This was the highlight of the day for many of the competitors, Lauren Poulton, rider of Prince Car said “This is the best day of my life, cantering down the Aintree home straight… it doesn’t get much better than that”.
With the competition now over, the four judges were required to find a winner. This, they said, was not easy, yet after a lot of discussion they had come to agree on who had impressed the most.
The five finalists circled the parade ring whilst the Smad Place team received their prizes for winning the Grade 2 Old Roan Chase. After which they made their way into the winners enclosure for the announcement of the winner.
It was a great moment, and the winning connections were in tears of joy. Melanie’s son, Thady learnt to hunt on Brumous and said “he’s just a legend” whilst holding back his tears.
The Hon Lucinda Cavendish awarded Melanie with her cheque and winners rug, while Louise Daly awarded each of the four runners up with a RoR Decanter and Tumbler set.
After the prize giving Melanie said “I am thrilled to have won and couldn’t have done it without real team work. I am privileged to have him, he’s an absolute saint and as good a hunter anyone could wish for. He’s a pleasure to do in all ways and has been half asleep all day which is a testament to his incredible nature. Thank you to RoR for running this fantastic challenge. None of us really knew what today would hold, but it’s been great fun and a real pleasure.”
Di Arbuthnot, RoR Chief Executive said “Congratulations to the five finalists especially to Melanie and Brumous, they have set an extremely high standard for this challenge going forward. The horses were a credit to their connections and this was a tremendous start to this inaugural Racing to Hunting Challenge. Thank you to all involved especially Aintree Racecourse and our fantastic team of judges.”
Due to the success of this year’s challenge, we will be opening up next years competition, in the next couple of weeks, to the first 50 nominations and entries will close at the end of January 2018. Nominations will again be required to supply biographies and videos of their horse hunting. Please keep an eye on the RoR website for more details.
The five finalists parade in front of the crowd at Aintree (c) Retraining of Racehorses