Oxfordshire ex-racehorse shortlisted for prestigious award

Que Sera has been nominated for the accolade, which is part of the Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) awards.

Jo and Ben Hales own and ride the horse, which was only involved in seven jumps races between 2014 and 2016.

After being rehomed by Ms Hales around seven years ago, Que Sera has made a string of victories across various disciplines, including dressage, side-saddle, combined training, show jumping, and hunting.

Founded by RoR in 2014, the Horse of the Year Award nomination processes involve all RoR registered ex-racehorses who have transitioned from racing into a fresh career.

The prize is a bronze trophy, as well as club admission and hospitality for two people at the Cheltenham Festival’s Opening Day.

Que Sera, aged 14, has some notable dressage exploits, among other achievements.

He won the 2019 Novice Southern Championships in his third ever dressage competition and bagged the 2022 Elementary Championship at Aintree.

He also came out second in the Medium League Championships last year.

Que Sera has also excelled at side-saddle, winning in at least six disciplines, including contests at Royal Windsor Horse Show and the National Side-Saddle Championships.

The horse has been instrumental in raising funds for charity and teaching children to ride.

Ms Hales, a vet in Kirtlington, has owned horses since she was 14-years-old.

She came to Que Sera’s rescue following a potentially fatal injury by nursing him back to health and improving his strength and conditioning, getting him set to compete once more.

She aims to progress Que Sera further up the dressage levels in the future.

Ms 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 is quite remarkable, but most importantly, he is 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.”

More than 200 nominations were received from various sectors before an independent RoR panel produced a shortlist of 12 horses.

Que Sera is among three finalists, alongside Clancy’s Cross from Staffordshire and Red Inferno from Hertfordshire.

RoR’s managing director, David Catlow, 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.”

The public vote is now open and will conclude at 5pm on January 19.

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