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Horse of the Year Show 2019 Kicks Off

The first day of competition at the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) on Wednesday 2nd October 2019 saw champions crowned from showing to showjumping. Always a crowd-pleaser Lucy Richardson’s Welsh Section A Pony Thistledown Van-Der-Vaart, ridden by her daughter Lilly, made HOYS history by winning the Colne and The Feed Shed Mountain & Moorland Mini Pony of the Year for the fifh year on the trot. Continuing the record-breaking trend during the evening performance was Nicole Pavitt, who became the first show jumper to win the Senior Newcomers Championship for the fourth time.

Wednesday 2nd October 2019 – The NEC, Birmingham

British Showjumping Bronze League Championship

Kicking off Horse of the Year Show 2019 with a show stopping double clear on Wednesday (2nd October 2019) was Surrey-based teenager Serena Kullich, age 19, who took the title of the British Showjumping Bronze League Champion. Riding her own 11-year-old grey gelding, Cooley, the pressure was on as they were the final combination to go out of just three riders who made it through to the jump off.


Serena Kullich, Bronze League Championship. © 1st Class Images

Knowing that she had to go for a clear and go for speed to beat the time set by opponent Holly Johnstone riding Gogo Bantos, Serena flew down to the last fence to finish on 30.05 seconds. Speaking of her victory, Serena commented: “He jumped so well in there today. It’s been a difficult year juggling my A-levels with keeping up with training and there were only two qualifiers left after my exams. Luckily, we made it to Wales and West in June, just one week after my final exam, and that’s where we picked up our HOYS ticket.”

Serena has come a long way from riding her Shetland pony from the age of three, and on ponies she competed at Horse of the Year Show 2016 coming sixth in the Pony Foxhunter Championship. She continues: “When I was here last time, I wanted to go for clear which we achieved and we placed sixth, so this year I wanted to ride for the time as well and I can’t believe we did it! He is my first horse after ponies, and I can’t wait to aim for the Silver League with him next year.”


Neil Wray reigns champion for another year

Neil Wray reigns champion again this year in the Steve Dent Stunt Harness Horse and Pony of the Year Championship.

A picture of pure class and tradition, Yorkshire-based driver Neil Wray clung on to his title as the Steve Dent Stunt Harness Horse and Pony of the Year Champion for the second year running with the eight-year-old black stallion, Plains Royalty.

Steve Dent Stunt Harness Horse and Pony of the Year Champion 2019, Plains Royalty driven by Neil Wray. © 1st Class Images

Out of 15 turnouts in the class, eight were pulled forward by judges Mary Ford and Justin Cowles, who then whittled it down to their final two; Neil driving Plains Royalty, along with 2014 and 2015 champion, Jessie Dudley Apicella driving Aghaderg Stand and Deliver. Eventually the hand went in Neil’s favour to be crowned champion for the second consecutive year.

Having picked up his HOYS qualification at Nottinghamshire County Show this season, he then went on to take Supreme of Show at the Royal Welsh Show weeks later, proving that consistency is key in producing a HOYS champion. Speaking of his win, Neil commented: “We are absolutely delighted. This is the pinnacle for us, and to win it not only once, but for the second year in succession is incredible. We have shown Roy [Plains Royalty] very little this year with only three shows before coming to HOYS but he is very laid back and knows his job.”

Having waited 26 years to win back a HOYS title at last year’s show, Neil continues on top form, adding: “It has really taken some doing to get back to the top slot and it’s a real team effort to get the turn-out at this standard. He’s a lovely horse and I couldn’t have asked for anything more today. He will have some progeny on the ground soon, so we are looking forward to seeing how they turn out.”

Neil has recently become Chairman of the British Driving Society and has already shown significant changes as he remains committed to transforming the society for generations to come.


‘Heads Up’ for a bright future for Cuddy Working Hunter Champion

A five-year-old Irish Sport Horse who is destined for a career in eventing has taken the Cuddy Working Hunter of the Year Championship on the opening day of Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).

Heads Up is jointly owned by event rider and producer, Hayden Hankey, and Catherine Witt, and was the youngest horse among 39 starters in this prestigious Championship.

Hayden rode a fantastic clear round on ‘Malvern’, as he is known at home, earlier on in the day and the gelding then showed class and maturity beyond his years under the spotlights of the Andrews Bowen International Arena in the evening performance.

Cuddy Working Hunter Champion 2019, Heads Up ridden by Hayden Hankey. © Julian Portch

The combination has been together for 12 months and qualified at the BSHA National Championship Show just a few weeks ago. After three events were cancelled due to bad weather this season, Hayden wanted Malvern to get some extra mileage on the clock, without the wear and tear on his legs. HOYS is Malvern’s third show to date.

Thinking ahead to the Supreme Products Supreme Horse of the Year on Sunday, Hayden said: “This horse has got every chance; he’s beautifully put together and in terms of conformation temperament and movement, he’s a class above everything.”

Hayden is no stranger to HOYS, having first competed in the Working Hunter Pony at just six years of age.

History repeated itself for Louise Lyons who rode Paulette Cooper’s MJM Laszlo into the Reserve Champion spot for the second year running. The nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse qualified at the Northern Ireland Festival.

David Cole’s course certainly put competitors through their paces. 12 rustic obstacles, provided by Cheshire Show Services, included an inviting oxer to start, followed by the water tray at fence five, a narrow gate and oxer at fence eight, the famous wall at fence 9 and the oxer with three options at fence 12. Just 10 combinations were invited back to the evening Championship.


Thistledown Van-Der-Vaart makes HOYS history

Lucy Richardson’s Welsh Section A Pony Thistledown Van-Der-Vaart, ridden by daughter Lilly, has made Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) history by winning the Colne and The Feed Shed Mountain & Moorland Mini Pony of the Year five years on the trot.

Colne and The Feed Shed Mountain & Moorland Mini Pony of the Year 2019, Van-Der-Vaart ridden by Lilly Richardson © 1st Class Images.

For many years this pony has lit up HOYS with style, elegance and an overall breath-taking performance with three different young riders. On all occasions he has scooped the Lead Rein class and then gone on to stand overall Mountain & Moorland Mini Pony Champion.

The first two wins were with Hannah Wilson in the saddle, when the pony was owned by Sharon Wilson. Then ‘Charles’, as he is known at home, was bought by Lucy for the 2017 season. He was ridden by Olivia Brightmore in 2017, as Lilly was too young, and Lilly has ridden him to victory for the past two seasons.

Charles is produced by Sharn Linney who says: “I can’t believe it; I know him inside out and back to front. He’s just amazing.”

Lucy says: “He’s in a league of his own and is one in a million.”

Charles is an 11-year-old gelding by Maestir Valient, out of Waxwing Valencia, and was bred by Sandy Anderson. He comes home to Lucy and Lilly from Sharn’s yard from October to February each year and Lilly hacks him out. The team may consider moving on to Mountain & Moorland First Ridden classes with Charles in the future.

He was the Ruckleigh School Supreme Pony of the Year in 2017 and now the stage is set for Charles to contest the title once more in a few days on Sunday night.

Reserve Champion went to the second placed Mountain & Moorland Lead Rein, Springwater Tamara, ridden by Elizabeth Mickle and produced by Sarah Newbold of the Emmerson show team. Tamara was bred by Elizabeth’s grandmother Nicola Tyler and her full sister has qualified for the famous Cuddy Supreme In-Hand Championship on Friday at HOYS; Springwater Anna.

Katie Smith’s Idyllic Spartacus won The Feed Shed Mountain & Moorland First Ridden Pony of the Year and Lisa Kerr’s Blisland Echo finished second.


Grandeur claims the SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse of the Year Championship

Successful ex-racehorse Grandeur claims the SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse of the Year Championship

SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse of the Year Champion 2019, Grandeur ridden by Jo Bates. © 1st Class Images

It’s always exciting to see a line-up of top-quality ex-racehorses who have swapped the track for the arena at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS). Today it was an ex-racer with 10 race victories and just under £600,000 of winnings, who showed that a successful change of career is entirely achievable.

Yvonne Jacque’s 10-year-old grey gelding Grandeur came to showing producer Jo Bates just six months after finishing his racing career as a six-year-old. It’s third time lucky for the pair after they claimed the title, having been placed twice before in this class at HOYS.

Yvonne has owned ‘Grandy’ since a two-year-old, and he was race trained by Jeremy Noseda. He is now thriving in his showing career with Jo, having been placed third in the Hack of the Year last year, which he’ll contest again tomorrow (Thursday) at HOYS.

“What a star!” exclaimed Jo as she exited the Andrews Bowen International Arena. “He was totally with me today and relished the big occasion.”
Jo says it is Grandeur’s intelligence which has made him so successful in the show ring. She says they have “travelled a long, hard road together” but he is “a very special horse.”

Lizzie Harris rode her own Lough Inch into second place.


Nicole Pavitt Makes history

Connolly’s RED MILLS Senior Newcomers Champion 2019, Southend ridden by Nicole Pavitt. © 1st Class Images

Nicole Pavitt makes history in the Connolly’s RED MILLS Senior Newcomers Championship.

Records were broken on day one at Horse of the Year Show, NEC Birmingham, as Sussex-based Nicole Pavitt became the first showjumper to win the Senior Newcomers Championship title for the fourth time. Nicole’s experience showed as she entered the Andrews Bowen International Arena as second to go in the jump off of the Connolly’s RED MILLS Senior Newcomers Championship aboard chestnut gelding Southend. She followed Christopher Smith who set the bar high riding a clear jump off in a good time with the beautiful grey mare, Hornet. Nicole took several risks with some tight turns which luckily for her paid off as she came in just inside Christopher’s time. Despite having two left to jump, the risky turns cost the other riders faults and they each picked up eight jumping penalties, allowing Nicole to step up to take her fourth Senior Newcomers title.

Nicole first won the class in 2012 riding Our Duchess, her other wins came in 2014 with Tia Semilly and 2017 with HC Cornet. Speaking of her victory today, Nicole said: “I watched Chris go just before me and I really thought that he had done enough and was going to win it. Southend is probably not the fastest, but he has a big stride so covers the ground easily. I just decided to take some tight turns then I could gain on him. The horse is relatively inexperienced, he only started his jumping career eight months ago and I’ve only ridden him a handful of times.”

The 11-year-old British Warmblood is owned by Matt Pike, and with Southend having unknown breeding, Nicole admits that they had no idea that he was going to turn out to be such a star. Nicole continues: “He’s done riding club and he has hunted so he has a varied background, but he just makes it all seem effortless. We have just come back from two weeks in France where the arenas are very open, adding to that he has never even jumped indoors before, so I think he had a bit of a shock, but he has a good head on him. I’m really looking forward to the future with him. Winning any class at Horse of the Year Show is an amazing feeling and to have won this particular class four times is a real honour.”


First Day Round Off with Addington Equestrian 2019 Ltd Talent Seekers

Rounding off day one of Horse of the Year Show in style, the audience in the Andrews Bowen International Arena were treated to an extraordinary result in the final class of the day and another ‘first’ with a two-way tie in the Addington Equestrian 2019 Ltd Talent Seekers Championship. Jay Halim and Tim Davies congratulated one another on their joint win in a time of 31.23 seconds, both sharing the same sentiment of gratitude.

Addington Equestrian 2019 Ltd Talent Seekers Champion 2019, Jay Halim. © Julian Portch

Jay Halim set the time with eight-year-old Aragon Z owned by Duncan Arthurs, explaining: “I actually grew up admiring Tim [Davies] and watching him compete, so it is a real honour to share this win with him today. Aragon is a special horse and really deserves this win. I unintentionally had an extra stride down the double so I was concerned I had left it open for someone to come in and beat me. I was second in this class a few years ago and I thought that the same was going to happen, but thankfully I kept my lead. It’s a childhood dream to win at Horse of the Year Show so I can finally tick that box and look ahead to what’s next. Hopefully this will give everyone supporting me confidence in what I am doing allowing me to continue on the path I’m on. A win is a win and I am so chuffed!”

Addington Equestrian 2019 Ltd Talent Seekers Champion 2019, Tim Davies. © Julian Portch

Tim Davies was last to go in the jump off riding eight-year-old chestnut gelding, Lionel Van De Markieslanden, owned by Barrett Watson. “It’s an honour to share the win with Jay; I watched his round and noted his time. My horse is quick but when I looked up at the clock I knew straight away that we’d drew. He’s the perfect person to share it with though and I’m really pleased for him. I jumped the horse here last year and he was very careful, you just never quite know how they are going to react in the arena. I mainly compete here in England producing young horses so it means a lot to win a big Championship here at Horse of the Year Show. I’ve had him since he was four years old and he was a tricky horse but I knew he’d come good. To come here and win with him is just incredible.”

The winning pair join the list of previous winners of this well-supported Championship, which include some of the sport’s greatest household names.

As a real platform of young horse talent, the class also incorporates the Brightwells 7-year-old Championship which was won by the highest placed seven-year-old horse, Green Grass, ridden and owned by Northallerton’s Paul Barker. Overall the combination came third in the class with a time of 31.36, showing just how close this jump off was this evening.

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