Zara Phillips’s much-loved horse Toytown and Eventing star Tina Cook were welcomed into The British Horse Society Equestrian Hall of Fame during a ceremony held at the Household Cavalry's Knightsbridge barracks on 26 November.
The BHS Hall of Fame celebrates the heroes and heroines — human and equine — of the equestrian world. Each year a select number of Britain’s most gifted horses and riders are invited to join the likes of William Fox-Pitt, Jennie Loriston-Clarke, Nick Skelton, Sefton, Milton and Over to You in the list of equestrian greats.
Toytown, affectionately nicknamed “Noddy”, had a truly remarkable career in eventing, helping Zara win both World and European titles. Their debut for the British Team at the 2005 European Championships, where they won Individual and Team Gold, was undoubtedly one of their finest performances. Toytown won the hearts of the home crowd at Blenheim Palace as he battled his way through torrential rain to complete a clear round cross-country that was as brave as it was magnificent.
Speaking at the ceremony, Zara said: “It is a massive privilege for Toytown to be entered into the Hall of Fame. He was my horse of a lifetime and he’s given me some of the greatest moments of my life. He has a fantastic record and really deserves to be recognised, so I am honoured to accept the certificate for him.”
Tina Cook was just ten years of age when her father Josh Gifford trained Aldaniti to win the Grand National and it was almost inevitable that she too would excel with horses. Her first major success was a Team Gold medal at the 1987 Junior European Eventing Championships and from there she has gone on to be a consistent member of the British team, winning European, World and Olympic medals. In 2009 she won her first major title, the Individual Gold at the European Championships in Fontainebleau, France, with Miners Frolic.
Of the award, Tina said: “I have never had an award like this before and I feel extremely honoured. To see the names that are there on the Wall of Fame, they are complete legends of equestrian sport and I feel privileged to be part of that and to be recognised for how my career has gone so far.”
The selections are made by a panel chaired by BHS Chairman, Claire Aldridge. The group comprises existing laureates Liz Edgar, Mary Gordon-Watson, Carl Hester and Lucinda Green, and is completed by Horse and Hound editor Lucy Higginson.
Members of the public may cast their vote to nominate equestrians and horses as laureates. Suggestions should be emailed to HallofFame@bhs.org.uk.