Friday, April 08, 2016

Best Shod Horse Award Debuts at Grand National Steeplechase

For the first time in the history of both the Worshipful Company of Farriers and racing in the United Kingdom, one of The Company's prestigious Best Shod Horse awards will be judged and presented at a race meeting. The hooves of the starters in England's world famous Crabbie's Grand National will be evaluated by a farrier judge, who will decide which horse's hooves are best prepared to tackle Aintree Racecourse's legendary obstacles like Becher's Brook and The Chair.

Which horse will gallop into history on the best-formed hooves and wearing the most appropriate shoes?

The Best Shod Horse awards are presented at a wide range of events and shows all over the United Kingdom. The awards are judged during the course of a class by farriers on the Company’s list of approved judges and certificates are given both to the owner and the farrier of the winning horse. The awards are part of the public face of the Company and are often held at events where shoeing and forging competitions also take place.

Current Master of the Farriers Company, Guy Hurst, himself a keen race-goer, voiced his delight with the broadening of this established award. “I am thrilled that in its 660th year the Company’s prestigious Best Shod Horse award will for the first time be presented at a race meeting. That it is at one of the world’s most famous venues and festivals is an added bonus.

"The Company is proud to acknowledge the skill required in the preparation of the foot for correct shoeing using racing plates. The judge on the day will be mindful of this requirement, as correct shoeing for purpose is at the heart of this award.

"The welfare of the horse is the overriding principle of the Company and I very much welcome this joint initiative between the Company, the Jockey Club and the Aintree Executive in promoting this worthwhile cause, as we all share this common purpose.”

The Worshipful Company of Farriers will be presenting three of its prestigious Best-Shod Horse awards for horses that run in the three races run over the Grand National course, the Crabbie's Fox Hunters' Chase, the Crabbie's Topham Chase and the Crabbie's Grand National. Former World Champion farrier James Blurton of Wales will judge.

Farrier Jason Medcroft of Worcestershire, England was the winner of the Worshipful Company's first award on Thursday, when of his horses was deemed Best Shod in the feature race that day. 

"I've won several best shod shoeing awards over the years but to win best shod race horse at the Grand National meeting today is amazing," Jason wrote on his Facebook wall. "...First time in the world this award has been given; it's the icing on the cake, happy farrier."

Which runner in the big race will win the award? Will bookmakers have a new angle?

Jim Blurton will be at Aintree early on Saturday morning when the Grand National horses are inspected by the course veterinarians. Normal "best shod" procedure would be to look at the feet of all the horses; with the super-fit National Hunt horses, that may be a fast look.

The Grand National, first held in 1839, is run over a distance of more than 4 miles, with up to 40 horses jumping 30 obstacles. The most legendary obstacle is the famed Becher's Brook. It may be only five feet high, but the unseen ditch on the far side means that the horses drop seven feet on landing. Sadly, many horses have lost their lives or been injured there, even though the obstacle has been softened over the years. With its million-pound prize, the Grand National is the most valuable jump race in Europe.

The results will hopefully be available to be announced on The Hoof Blog later. Please check back.

Top illustration background is William Tasker's painting, "The Liverpool and National Steeplechase at Aintree in 1843".

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