In a compelling display of the vibrant second careers that await retired racehorses, Celtic Silver, a 14-year-old gelding, clinched the top spot in the 2023 Ri-Dry RoR Racing to Hunting Challenge.
The culmination of the competition saw six finalists converge on Saturday 18 November, for a thrilling day of hunting with the North Staffordshire Hunt.
After meticulously reviewing entries from across the country, the judging panel selected six finalists for the ultimate showdown.
The title of the best hunter was bestowed upon Celtic Silver, owned and ridden by Sara Cork from Shropshire. Originally a gift to Sara due to his sharp demeanour, Celtic Silver has seamlessly transitioned into the world of hunting.
The pair regularly hunt with the Duke of Beaufort Hunt and serve as the leaders for the Wishful Thinkers in open-level team chases. Sara expressed her delight with the result, highlighting Celtic Silver’s prowess over cross-country fences and adeptness with hounds.
Celtic Silver, whose racing career spanned over nine years under the guidance of Tom Ellis, gracefully retired in May 2021 after a notable stint in point-to-pointing.
As winners of the Ri-Dry Racing to Hunting Challenge, Sara Cork and Celtic Silver received a Ri-Dry RoR Racing to Hunting rug and jacket. Additionally, they secured an invitation to the RoR Awards ceremony at The Jockey Club Rooms on 31 January 2024, where they will be honoured with the prestigious RoR Elite Hunting trophy and a cash prize.
Securing the runner-up position was 13-year-old Golden Loch and Joe Neal from the Ledbury Hunt, followed by Battle Of Shiloh, a 14-year-old ridden and owned by Paul Ikin, in third place. Both the second and third-place finishers received prize money and a Ri-Dry voucher.
Sir Jonathan Clark, Chair of the Judging Panel added:
“Today’s hunting with the North Staffordshire Hunt was not only enjoyable but also a genuine trial for the participants, showcasing their exemplary adaptation to their second careers. Congratulations to all the finalists for their remarkable performance.”
The Ri-Dry RoR Racing to Hunting Challenge stands as one of the diverse disciplines racehorses can transition into after their racing careers conclude. As the official charity for the welfare of retired racehorses, RoR has made a significant impact on the lives of numerous former racehorses.
The charity (RoR) has fostered a growing demand for these equine athletes, establishing prestigious competitions that have become integral to the equestrian calendar.
The RoR also provides educational events for owners of former racehorses and essential welfare efforts, ensuring a safety net for these athletes during their transition from the racetrack to fulfilling post-racing lives.