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Saturday at Horse of the Year Show never disappoints

Robert Whitaker, blew away the opposition in the first international showjumping class of the day at Saturday’s Horse of the Year Show to win the Accumulator, a class which sees riders collect points for each fence jumped, with the winner claiming the most points in the quickest time. Also setting a quick time was Glain Watkin-Jones who jumped to victory in the Pony Foxhunter Championship with Trevor H. Snaking around the turn to the last line, the crowd were right behind the pair as they flew to the last.

Saturday 5th October 2019 – The NEC, Birmingham

A sensational win for Angie Thompson

British Horse Feeds Speedi-Beet Grade C Championship, Angie Thompson riding Fremont VDL. © 1st Class Images

A sensational win for Angie Thompson in the British Horse Feeds Speedi-Beet Grade C Championship.

The British Horse Feeds Speedi-Beet Grade C Championship was the first showjumping class of the day on Saturday at Horse of the Year Show, held at the NEC in Birmingham. Out of a field of 26 riders, the 1.40m course proved tricky for some. Of the seven horses to make it through to the jump off, Allana Clutterbuck set the time to beat of 35.27 seconds riding Vykinbay. Last to go was Angie Thompson riding nine-year-old bay gelding, Fremont VDL. As no stranger to HOYS, Angie knew exactly what she had to do to secure the victory. Riding a perfectly judged round, Angie took a winning turn to the last fence which saw her come home ahead of the rest in a time of 34.66 seconds. A simply sensational achievement for this combination and the biggest win of her career to date for Angie, who is based in Chipping Camden in the Cotswolds.

“I did feel the pressure. It’s the first class on Puissance day and I’ve got about 25 people here supporting me. I had a good draw as last to go so I knew what I had to do. He [Fremont VDL] is a big horse and he just eats the ground up. He’s jumped here before which really helps because some horses can find it quite daunting on their first time in that arena. He rode well and kept a good pace. To win at HOYS is something else; it is such a special show. I’ve been placed here several times, so I am delighted to have finally won. He’s a great horse and he really deserves a win.”

Saturday at Horse of the Year Show never disappoints, attracting crowds of visitors to come and immerse themselves in an equestrian utopia where they can watch some of the best riders of our sport compete for HOYS Champion status.


Robert Whitaker secures his win in the Accumulator

Robert Whitaker, the British-ranked number six rider, blew away the opposition in the first international showjumping class of the day at Saturday’s Horse of the Year Show. The Accumulator sees riders collect points for each fence jumped, with a maximum score of 65. Any combinations finishing on that figure are separated on time. Robert was one of seven riders to jump clear and showed great precision and speed right from the off.

The Accumulator, Robert Whitaker riding Dekato. © 1st Class Images

Having to settle for second place the previous night in the Take Your Own Line class, Robert knew he had to up his game for today’s competition. Setting a tough time to beat of 47.63 seconds aboard Dekato, fellow competitor and winner of yesterday’s Grandstand Welcome Stakes, Anthony Condon, was hot on Robert’s heels. Riding Zira VH Kapelhof Z, Anthony produced an impressively quick round but came home less than a tenth of a second slower, allowing Robert Whitaker to take the spoils.

A new ride for Robert, 11-year-old Dekato is owned by Jessie Drea. Robert commented: “I’ve only been riding him a week and it was the first time jumping him in the ring yesterday. He’s very quick and ultra-careful, always looking for the next fence. I think he’s got a big future ahead of him.”


Samuel Walker follows in his father’s footsteps

Rotherwood Stud Intermediate Show Hunter of the Year Championship 2019, Samuel Walker riding Carnsdale Wise Guy. © 1st Class Images

Samuel Walker follows in his father’s footsteps in the Rotherwood Stud Intermediate Show Hunter of the Year Championship.

Samuel Walker, son of showing producer and multiple HOYS winner, Robert Walker, rode Jill Day’s Carnsdale Wise Guy (Guy) to success in the Rotherwood Stud Intermediate Show Hunter of the Year Championship at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).

The duo has a combined age of just 20 years; Samuel is 15 and Guy just five. Dad Robert rode the Irish Sport Horse in the Small Hunter Championship at HOYS last year, and Samuel also rode him in this class earlier in the week; his first adult championship here at HOYS.

Sarah Walker said the win was “unbelievably emotional”. “We bought him as a raw three-year-old from Shelly Argyle and he just has the most amazing rhythm and movement,” she explained.

Sam has won at HOYS once before in the Show Hunter Pony Championship. They compete again on Sunday in The Binks Family 153cm Show Hunter Pony of the Year class and already have their ticket for the Ruckleigh School Supreme Pony of the Year.

Alice Homer rode Kay Campbell’s six-year-old Church Rock Cashel into second.


Lord Alexander is The Leeman Family Maxi Cob of the Year Champion

Elizabeth Bury’s Irish Draught, Lord Alexander (Alex), took the title of The Leeman Family Maxi Cob of the Year in the Championship’s ninth running at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).

Stephen Norris has contested the Championship with Alex, a 10-year-old Chestnut gelding, for four consecutive years, but never managed to clinch the winning sash until today. He was delighted to finally do it in a class that he believes is stronger than ever.

The Leeman Family Maxi Cob of the Year Champion 2019, Lord Alexander ridden by Stephen Norris. © 1st Class Images

As soon as Stephen saw the Cob as a six-year-old, he knew he had to have him: “His conformation is just top class and he rides like a Grand Prix show jumper.”

Alex has shown consistency throughout his career, having only been beaten five times over three seasons.

“He’s so rhythmical and balanced; you can shut down [in an arena] or ride him away [outdoors],” said Stephen.

Outside of the show season, Stephen hunts regularly and plans for Alex to go hunting over the winter for a change of pace.

Lynn Russell rode Baileys Horse Feeds’ nine-year-old Piebald gelding, Cappa Sham, to second place. They were also placed in this Championship in 2016 and 2018.


Rising talent on display in the Pony Foxhunter Championship

Glain Watkin-Jones flew the flag for Wales at Horse of the Year Show on Saturday afternoon, jumping to victory in the Pony Foxhunter Championship. Every year the calibre of junior riders in this class gets stronger and stronger and with 10 riders through to the jump off, this year was no exception. The Pony Foxhunter is one of the most significant national pony classes in Great Britain and plays an important part in the transition from junior to senior showjumping. Previous winners include Paul Barker, Louise Pavitt, William Whitaker and Matt Sampson, some of whom have been competing in international classes at HOYS this week.

Riding eight-year-old grey gelding Trevor H, Glain rode a thrilling jump off taking every opportunity to move forwards and then rebalance before the fence. Snaking around the turn to the last line, the crowd were right behind her as she flew to the last, finishing on a time of 34.43 seconds. Despite last year’s reigning champion Holly Cooper and this year’s Pony Newcomers Champion Daisy Williams still to jump, the 16-year-old Welsh showjumper proved too quick for them to catch. Being awarded her first Pony Foxhunter Champion title at Horse of the Year Show, Glain is one to watch out for in the future.

“I knew he [Trevor] could do it because he’s really quick on the ground and he absolutely loves a jump off, so I just had to trust him and let him go. I was nervous having seen the crowd, but he just lights up when he goes in that arena and he tries so hard. We’ve only had him since last year and he was quite green when we got him. It took us a while to click but now we have I absolutely love him; he has a heart of gold. To qualify and then to win at HOYS is amazing. My mum is so supportive and helps me a lot, I wouldn’t be able to do this without her. This is my last year on ponies so my brother will take the ride of him next year and I will focus on some of our young horses.”

Pony Foxhunter Championship 2019, Glain Watkin-Jones riding Trevor H © Julian Portch


A Tailor-made Champion

The Baker-Beall Family Intermediate Show Riding Type of the Year, Charlotte Elliott-Grooby riding Holmestones Tailor Made. © 1st Class Images

A tailor-made Champion in The Baker-Beall Family Intermediate Show Riding Type of the Year.

Charlotte Elliott-Grooby celebrated her first Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) win and Championship when she rode Vicki Rudd’s eight-year-old British Riding Pony, Holmestones Tailor Made, to victory in The Baker-Beall Family Intermediate Show Riding Type of the Year Championship.

The gelding, known as Worzel at home, is produced by Adam Forster and David Jinks, and Charlotte works full-time for the team. Charlotte and Worzel won the 158cm section before going straight back into the ring to take the overall Championship.

Adam said: “We’re thrilled. He went beautifully in there and performed a great show.”

The team have taken their time with Worzel, who is “like silk to ride”. He’s had a great 2019 season, also going Reserve Supreme Hack at the Royal International Horse Show with Adam.

Worzel now joins the long line of HOYS Champions by the prolific late sire, Kilvington Scoundrel. Vicki has had him since a two-year-old and bought him straight from the breeder; Emma Greenland of Ivy House Stables. He will now go and enjoy his winter holiday back home with Vicki.

Reserve Champion was the winner of the 153cm section, Royal Engagement, owned by Victoria Trice and ridden by Lydia Trice.

The 12-year-old gelding, Nemo, has been in the Trice family for seven years and ridden by Lydia for two.

Her sister Imogen has ridden Nemo at HOYS for the past five years in Intermediates and most notably finished second in the Hack class in 2015. Now that Imogen is out of Intermediates, Lydia has taken on the ride.

“It should have been Imogen to take this win,” said a delighted Lydia. “He went so well; I honestly think he knows where he is.”

Nemo is produced by Team Quiney but is very much a family horse. Lydia remembers hacking him around at Hickstead when she was just 10; “he’s such a big character in a sweet way,” she said.

Nemo will go to a new home next year. “It’s an amazing way to send him off,” said Lydia.

Sharon Harrison’s Sarison Heavenly Silk and Eileen Jenkin’s Buriana Larkrise both also contested the Championship after placing second in the 153cm and 158cm sections respectively.


A two-way tie in the Grandstand Challenge Cup

A thrilling start to Saturday night at Horse of the Year Show saw the honours shared between last years’ two-time HOYS Champion, Geoffroy De Colligny, and this year’s outstanding performer, Anthony Condon, as they battled it out in the Grandstand Challenge Cup.

There were 13 riders through to the jump off, and as second to go, French rider Geoffroy set the standard high with a time of 32.79 seconds riding Raimondo Du Plessis. With very few double clears, it was the turn of Irish competitor, Anthony, riding yesterday’s winner in the Grandstand Welcome Stakes, SFS Vincomte. Chasing down the fences, the pair couldn’t be separated in the jump off, resulting in a joint win for the two international riders. It’s the second time at the Show this week that a competition has finished in a tie for first place, highlighting just how competitive this week’s classes have been.

Grandstand Challenge Cup 2019, Geoffroy De Colligny and Anthony Condon. © 1st Class Images

Geoffroy had a successful first ride at Horse of the Year Show last year, winning the Accumulator and the Speed Horse of the Year class and he was delighted to be back on winning form: “It was a big crowd and it’s so amazing to be here, I love this show. I won here with him [Raimondo Du Plessis] last year and it is good to do it again.”

Anthony is on top form this week having now secured two wins and two second placings. He celebrated his win with wife Laura and three-year-old son Hector. Anthony commented: “I watched Geoffroy’s round and saw he had a naturally fast horse and my wife Laura said to me ‘I don’t know how you’re going to beat him in the jump off’. I tried my best, but I’ll settle for a tie. The horse [SFS Vincomte] is amazing, he’s so consistent. This is one of the best shows I’ve had; I just hope I can keep it going for tomorrow.”


Showing newcomer wins Lead Rein Pony of Hunter Type of the Year Championship

Bryony Gribbin of Vale Farms Ltd. Lead Rein Pony of Hunter Type of the Year Championship 2019, Oscar Elcock riding Mardruid Caradog. © 1st Class Images

Showing newcomer wins the Bryony Gribbin of Vale Farms Ltd. Lead Rein Pony of Hunter Type of the Year Championship.

A home-produced pony, who only started showing this year at 10 years of age, has become a Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) Champion.

Cheryl Elcock’s Welsh Section A pony, Mardruid Caradog (Mac) won the Bryony Gribbin of Vale Farms Ltd. Lead Rein Pony of Hunter Type of the Year Championship with her son, Oscar, in the saddle. It was the family’s first HOYS win.

Cheryl bought the grey gelding in December last year from a Pony Club home and Oscar has been enjoying show jumping and Cradle Stakes, as well as doing a couple of shows qualifying for the Royal International Horse Show and gaining their HOYS ticket at Kent County Show.

She said: “We never thought we’d win! He’s such a kind, sweet pony and Oscar loves galloping him round the fields and pretending to be a jockey!”

Oscar is looking forward to continuing with Cradle Stakes next year, but in the meantime, he’ll be back on Sunday at HOYS to contest the Ruckleigh School Supreme Pony of the Year Championship.

Cheryl had a ticket for Hospitality at HOYS on Sunday night, which she said she’ll now give to husband, Ben, while she’s in the ring!

Julia Davies’ six-year-old Welsh Section A, Thistledown Lawman, finished second ridden in the ring by Hattie Mustoe.


Woody & Buzz race to victory

Osborne Refrigerators Double Harness Scurry Championship 2019, Alison Osborne driving Woody & Buzz © Julian Portch

Woody & Buzz race to victory in the Osborne Refrigerators Double Harness Scurry Championship.

Alison Osborne and her super, nippy pair of ponies, Osborne Refrigerators Woody & Buzz, finished a fantastic week in the Osborne Refrigerators Double Harness Scurry, taking the overall Championship on Saturday night at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).

Alison not only qualified both her pairs of ponies for the final but won every single class this year at HOYS in the process! Woody & Buzz competed in the small section and Chip & Dale in the large.

10 pairs of ponies across the large and small sections qualified across three days at HOYS to battle it out in the most prestigious final of Scurry driving.

Woody & Buzz were seventh to go, finishing clear on a breath-taking 42.46 seconds. A handful of competitors took the risky decision to go inside the seventh element to save precious time, but even going wide, Alison was still just over two seconds quicker than second placed Jemma Millman with Tigger & Owl; a team who have been on the best of form in the lead up to HOYS. They finished on 44.79 seconds tonight.

Sally Edwards and The Marlow Saddlers L 4 Leather came in a close third on 45.05 seconds.

Woody & Buzz have only been together for a month, as Buzz’s usual partner sustained an injury. However, Alison has had both ponies from three-year-olds; Woody is now eight and Buzz is 11.

Alison said: “I’m just over the moon; they’ve been absolutely brilliant all week.

“We had 46 seconds in the first class, then 44 – I never thought we could do 42 – what a week!

“It was a brilliant course tonight; twisty and technical with stretches to gallop.”

Woody & Buzz will now go hacking for 10 days to calm down and relax, and then go out until Christmas. The pair have a big responsibility of pulling Santa’s sleigh at their local charity event in December. They’ll then come back in around March to get started on the 2020 Scurry season.

Alison finished fifth with her large pair, Chip & Dale, after just knocking the first element.


Our Cashel Blue comes back in style

The Leeman Family Cob of the Year Champion 2019, Our Cashel Blue ridden by Allister Hood © Julian Portch

Our Cashel Blue comes back in style to be crowned The Leeman Family Cob of the Year Champion.

After a turbulent year, Caroline Tyrrell’s Our Cashel Blue (Blue) has made a triumphant return to Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) with Allister Hood, claiming The Leeman Family Cob of the Year Championship.

Blue was Cob Champion and Supreme Horse of the Year in 2016, and Cob Champion again in 2017. However, in 2018, the 10-year-old was diagnosed with cancer after developing a lump on his shoulder.

Blue underwent surgery to remove the tumour at the Royal Veterinary College at Potters Bar and then followed a long journey of three months’ box rest, walking in-hand and riding at walk.

Allister had also suffered a heart attack earlier on in the year.

Speaking after the Championship, Allister said: “I always had the dream of coming back here [to HOYS].”

“He [Blue] has so many followers; we can’t walk around without people wanting to touch him or have a selfie… I’ve never had a horse with such a personality… He’s a grand lad.”

Blue will now have the opportunity to reclaim his title from a few years back in the Supreme Products Supreme Horse of the Year Championship on Sunday evening.

Reserve Champion went to the Cob placed second to Blue in the Lightweight section; Sue Benson’s Whitegate Dazzler (Oliver). The eight-year-old Cob gave Anne Leaver a fabulous ride and secured her highest placing over numerous years of competing here at HOYS in Cob and Arab classes.

Sue bought Oliver as a three-year-old and he was bred by Derrick Jones who was at HOYS to see him crowned Reserve champion.

Anne has never over shown Oliver. He went Champion at the Royal International Horse Show and Royal Windsor Horse Show last season, but HOYS has been his big success story this year. At home he regularly hacks out and is schooled.

Anne now has his two-year-old half-brother at home to bring on, who she says “looks just like him!”

Taking first and second in the Heavyweight section were Silver Diamond ridden by Magnus Nicholson and Starfall ridden by Lynn Russell.


Novice pony wins British Show Pony Society Children’s Riding Pony of the Year Championship

This time last year, Charlotte Caulfield’s pony, Stretcholt New Dimension, was just being backed. Fast forward 12 months and he is now a Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) Champion, having won the British Show Pony Society 138cm Children’s Riding Pony of the Year and standing overall Champion.

The five-year-old British Riding Pony, known as Ed at home and owned by Louise Caulfield, was backed over the winter and worked away quietly before being brought out as a novice at the start of this season. He qualified for HOYS on his first attempt.

British Show Pony Society Children’s Riding Pony of the Year Championship, Stretcholt New Dimension ridden by Charlotte Caulfield © Julian Portch

This was also Charlotte’s first HOYS win. She said: “We never thought he’d get this far in his novice year… to get here is such a privilege.”

“He’s so comfortable to ride, he just floats.”

Ed is produced by Adam Forster and David Jinks. Adam said: “His movement is something else, and his temperament… You teach him something, he picks it up and wants to learn the next thing. He’s just a joy to deal with.”

Winner of the 148cm section, Serena Parkhouse’s Jackets Destiny, stood Reserve Champion ridden by Emmy Parkhouse. Jackets Destiny is a seven-year-old partbred Arab bred by Julie Rucklidge.

The winner of the smallest section, the 128cm, was Rotherwood Rainmaker owned by Rupert Till and ridden by India Till.

Second placed in each section were: Dianne Brereton’s Laybalands Fly By Night in the 148cm, Henrietta Till’s Drakemyre Puttin on the Ritz in the 138cm and Katie Smith’s Kouros Mayfia in the 128cm.


Williams and Whitaker share the win in the Ripon Select Foods Puissance

The Ripon Select Foods Puissance, the class everyone had been waiting to see at Horse of the Year Show, was finally here. Showcasing an impressive line-up of international riders, including last year’s joint winners, Alfie Bradstock and Guy Williams, as well as Geoff Billington and Robert Whitaker who have both won multiple Puissance classes in their careers.

The riders did not disappoint, performing some breath-taking rounds to entertain the packed-out crowd on Saturday night at Horse of the Year Show. By round five, the 12 starters were whittled down to four to tackle the big red wall, set at an impressive height of 7ft2” (2.20m).

Robert Whitaker was up first riding Major Delacour who had never jumped a Puissance wall before tonight’s class. The 11-year-old chestnut gelding brushed off the pressure clearing the wall in remarkable style. The win was just out of reach for Simon Buckley and Nano Healy who had each shown great courage to make it through the earlier rounds. It was all down to Guy Williams to see if he could match last year’s win. A wave of suspense spread around the Andrews Bowen International Arena as he approached the wall riding last year’s winning horse, Mr Blue Sky UK. With experience on his side, the fearless grey gelding took off stride-perfect to take a joint win alongside Robert Whitaker. An exciting end to a crowd favourite at Horse of the Year Show.

Ripon Select Foods Puissance 2019, Robert Whitaker © Julian Portch

Guy Williams has won four out of the four Puissance classes he has done with the striking Mr Blue Sky UK, who is owned by Caroline Phillips. Guy comments: “He’s a really good horse and he just takes you to the fence. It’s almost like the bigger it gets, the better he jumps. He hasn’t done a Puissance since Olympia last year, it’s not something you want to do too often. In a Puissance it is really tempting to attack the fence early on, but I try and hold them until the last round. It’s a fun class to ride in and the audience really enjoy it which makes you want to win. My kids beg me to do this class every year, they just love it. I used to come and watch at HOYS with my mum and dad so it’s great to now be here with my children.”

Ripon Select Foods Puissance 2019, Guy Williams © Julian Portch

Robert was delighted that Major Delacour, owned by Clare Whitaker and Elaine Wood, had won his first ever Puissance: “I just knew he’d be a good Puissance horse. I’ve been riding him now for about a year and he is a very brave jumper. I couldn’t have asked any more of him tonight, he felt better and better each round, I even think he could have kept going. There’s always a good crowd here on a Saturday night and it’s a good one for them to get behind. I’ll probably do the Puissance at Olympia and see if we can win there too.”

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