The Queen is in line to receive a coveted ‘beyond the grave’ equestrian trophy next week.
A thoroughbred horse named First Receiver, which was owned by the late Queen and bred at her Sandringham stud, is up for the prize for horse of the year – one of the most prestigious titles in equestrian sport which is part of of the equestrian championship, which began in 1949 and is described as “the most famous equestrian spectacle in the world”.
During the last decades of her life, the Queen was as successful in the world of horse shows as she was in horse racing.
But, just as she has never won the Epsom Derby, the coveted Horse of the Year award has always eluded her.
A thoroughbred horse named First Receiver (pictured) which was owned by the late Queen and bred at her Sandringham stud is up for a horse of the year award
The first receiver’s rider, Katie Jerram-Hunnable, who has been riding royal show horses for 20 years, spoke exclusively to the Mail on Sunday last week to express her enthusiasm.
“The only thing Her Majesty wanted to do was win the Horse of the Year Show. I would like to make her proud by doing it with her home bred horse from Sandringham. It would be a dream for her to win, I want her to “she wins the prize from beyond the grave. I have been vice-champion four times on her horses, I almost did it so many times.
Thousands of horses try to qualify throughout the year for the equestrian championship, which begins on Wednesdays and is often likened to “horse crufts”.
‘The only thing Her Majesty wanted to do was win the Horse of the Year Show,’ the first receiver rider told MoS
The first receiver qualified to compete in the ‘Equitation Racehorse of the Year’ category just four days before the Queen died.
The qualifying event took place at the prestigious Burghley Horse Trials on September 4, where the Queen’s granddaughter, Zara Tindall, also competed in front of 170,000 people at the three-day event.
Princess Anne, the Queen’s daughter, presented awards and the first receiver, affectionately known as ‘Firsty’, won a first rosette, the Queen’s last.
Ms Jerram-Hunnable immediately reported the news to Queen’s stable manager Terry Pendry.
“As soon as I got out of the ring, I called Terry. He immediately called Her Majesty and she was so thrilled that he won that class that day. It was my last victory for Her Majesty, it makes me emotional,” adds Jerram-Hunnable who has ridden around 30 horses for the Queen in 20 years. I didn’t know Firsty would be ready for this and I was holding him back so it’s ironic that he finally felt ready just before the queen passed away. He was amazing at Burghley and I’m so proud. I pray to the Lord that he will come out making her proud Horse of the Year.’
First receiver ridden by Frankie Dettori (left) at Royal Ascot in 2020
Five-year-old First Receiver started life as a racehorse trained by Sir Michael Stoute and was ridden by top jockeys including Frankie Dettori.
Less than two years ago he was still running, but the queen – always concerned about animal welfare – changed her career to reduce her risk of injury.
Wednesday’s competition will be the biggest challenge Firsty has had to face in his new occupation.
Hundreds of horses try to qualify and the test lasts one hour. Horses must line up and ride in single file.
They should not be tempted to try to race other horses, which for the first recipient will be difficult due to their racing experience.
The first receiver, who is five, started life as a racehorse trained by Sir Michael Stoute and was ridden by top jockeys including Frankie Dettori.
The first receiver would definitely be the crowd favorite to win and Jerram-Hunnable thinks he has every chance.
But beyond the competition, she doesn’t know what will become of him or the other four horses she rode for the late Queen, who now belong to King Charles.
“Horse of the Year might be my last day riding these beautiful horses, so we’re all very emotional about that,” she said last week, after a 20-day hiatus from riding due to the royal mourning.
“None of us knows what we are doing and what our plans are. I just pray that they stay with us, but none of us do. If we won, it would mean the world to me, knowing that I had indeed accomplished the task that was asked of me, namely to be crowned Horse of the Year, and I hope that we will continue to make her proud.