Kirtlington-based former racehorse Que Sera, owned and ridden by Jo and Ben Hales, has been shortlisted as a finalist for the prestigious Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) Horse of the Year Award.
Following a short racing career which lasted just seven jumps’ races between 2014-2016, including one win at Towcester and career earnings of £3,438, Que Sera was rehomed by Jo nearly seven years ago.
Despite not being suited to horse racing, he has since gone on to demonstrate remarkable versatility with a run of success across a variety of disciplines, including dressage, side-saddle, combined training, show jumping and hunting.
Introduced in 2014 by RoR, British Horseracing’s official charity for the welfare of horses that have retired from racing, the Horse of the Year Award is firmly established as one of its most coveted titles.
Nominations for the award are open to all RoR-registered former racehorses who can demonstrate how they have successfully transitioned from racing to a new career.
The winner will receive the iconic bronze trophy as well as Club Admission and Hospitality for two people for the Opening Day of the Cheltenham Festival meeting.
From a long list of achievements, the 14-year-old’s standout dressage accomplishments include winning the 2019 Novice Southern Championships at his third-ever dressage competition, winning the 2022 Elementary Championship at Aintree, and finishing 2nd in the Medium League Championships last year.
In addition, he has also excelled at side saddle, winning in at least six disciplines, including classes at the Royal Windsor Horse Show and the National Side Saddle Championships.
Que Sera’s owner, Jo Hales, is a vet and lives in Kirtlington. She’s owned horses since she was 14 years old, and when Que Sera once suffered a life-threatening injury, she nursed him back to health before building up his strength and conditioning so he was ready to compete again.
Not only has Jo enjoyed great personal success with Que Sera, he has also helped raise significant money for charity and helped children learn to ride for the first time. In the future, Jo hopes to move him up the dressage levels and continue having success in many different fields of equestrian sports.
Jo Hales said: “Our beautiful Que Sera has been a privilege to own and retrain, he’s a one-in-a-million horse. His versatility and temperament are quite remarkable, but most importantly, he is a kind, much-loved member of the family. We’re delighted to have made the final three and it would be an honour to win the award.”
Over two hundred nominations were submitted from across the racing and equestrian worlds before a shortlist of 12 horses was then narrowed down to three finalists by an independent RoR judging panel. Que Sera is up against Clancy’s Cross from Staffordshire and Red Inferno from Hertfordshire.
David Catlow, RoR Managing Director, said: “The extraordinary stories of each of our finalists highlight not only the adaptability of former racehorses to a wide range of second careers, but also the remarkable commitment to the horses’ well-being of so many involved in aftercare. The RoR Awards are an important opportunity to recognise these inspirational thoroughbreds.”
Founded in 2000, RoR’s thriving community provides thoroughbred owners with access to education, advice, and an established series of events to support the ongoing healthy, happy lives of former racehorses.
The RoR Awards is the charity’s annual flagship promotional event, showcasing aftercare and highlighting the versatility of the thoroughbred. The awards night is packed with heartfelt stories of resilience and emotion, surprises and magical moments, capturing the hearts and enjoyment that former racehorses bring to many peoples’ lives long after they have retired from racing.
Previous recipients of the Horse of the Year Award include well-known and popular former racehorses Liverpool, Monet’s Garden, Beware Chalk Pit, Monkerty Tunkerty, the late HM The Queen’s horse Quadrille and the incumbent title holder, First Fandango.
The public vote is now open and closes at 5.00pm on Friday, 19 January. To review all the finalists’ stories and participate in the voting process, visit the Retraining of Racehorses website.
The winner will be announced at the RoR Awards evening on Wednesday, 31 January.