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Sunday’s Horse of the Year Show Provides Plenty of Talent

Coco Bongo proved that her presence under the spotlight is as compelling as her jump when she beat off all the other pony Champions from across the week to be crowned the Ruckleigh School Supreme Pony of the Year 2019. Ridden by Chloe Lemieux, the 10-year-old grey mare is owned by William Calder, and HOYS was their fifth show together. Chloe is riding the pony in 133cm Workers while William’s daughter Jessica is currently in Nursery Stakes classes with her. After a very busy and even more successful week at HOYS, Jayne Ross added to her HOYS story when the stunning Heavyweight Hunter, Twinshock Warrior, was crowned Supreme Products Supreme Horse of the Year. Jayne had four horses qualified for the Supreme final and this was her seventh Horsae of the Year Show Supreme title. In the Showjumping arena, it was Irish rider David Simpson who claimed the Leading Showjumper of the Year title. Speaking after his win with Gentleman VH Veldhof, David said: “To win the final track of Bob Ellis’ time at Horse of the Year Show is a real honour. He is a great friend of mine and what he has brought to our sport is unbelievable.”


Sunday 6th October 2019 – The NEC, Birmingham

Record second win for Tabitha Kyle

Tabitha Kyle made her Sunday at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) a day to remember as she became the first ever rider to win both the 128cm and the 138cm title in the same year at the show.

Hilton Garden Inn 128cm Championship

Hilton Garden Inn 128cm Championship, Tabitha Kyle riding Coreys Princess. © 1st Class Images

Leading from the beginning, 12-year-old Tabitha Kyle won the first showjumping class of the day in the Andrews Bowen International Arena to take the title in the Hilton Garden Inn 128cm Championship. The schoolgirl from Leicestershire showed experience beyond her years as she navigated her way around the jump off at lightning speed aboard nine-year-old grey mare, Coreys Princess. Setting the time to beat at 31.03 seconds Tabitha could do no more. The other five riders who followed, produced some fabulous rounds, although couldn’t do enough to catch her.

A special young talent, this is Tabitha’s third year competing at Horse of the Year Show and her last year on 128cm ponies, but she finally secured her first win. Having qualified nine ponies for five Championships at HOYS this week, the future is bright for this talented young rider. Tabitha spoke of her win: “It feels really good to finally get my first win at HOYS. My pony did everything she could in there; she’s really good at galloping between fences and then coming back to me for the fence. I’ve been riding her for four years so we know each other really well. I don’t generally get nervous, I just try and treat every round like any other. It felt odd going first, I usually like to go somewhere in the middle, but I put the pressure on the rest and had to just hope for the best.”


Aztec Diamond Equestrian 138cm Championship

Aztec Diamond Equestrian 138cm Championship, Tabitha Kyle riding Playboy Van De Zoetewei. © 1st Class Images

Riding the eight-year-old bay gelding, Playboy Van De Zoetewei, Tabitha had a tough time to beat by rival Rachel Proudley, who set the bar high on a time of 34.73 riding Buttons Two. Riding full throttle over the double and to the final oxer, Tabitha lay down the gauntlet as the clock stopped on 33.04 seconds.

At just 12 years of age, Leicestershire-based Tabitha rides with great composure, precision and skill, showing that the future of British Showjumping really is in great hands. With a smile as wide as she is high, Tabitha took to the arena for her second lap of honour in front of the crowd on the final day of HOYS 2019.

Speaking of her new record, Tabitha commented: “It’s been such a great experience to have won both of the Championships. He is only eight years old and we had him from Holland as a three-year-old, so we have literally done everything with him. My mum rode him until he was five and that’s when I started riding him. He was quite a nervous pony to begin with, and he still is around people, but once he gets into the arena he just focuses and knows what to do. I saw that Rachel had set a tough time to beat but I was determined to try and take the second win. My pony has quite a long stride and is very quick across the ground and thankfully it was just enough. He just loves to jump, and I’m really pleased with him.”

To have an enormity of pressure placed on her shoulders from such a young age, Tabitha remains unphased by the media attention and the show’s visitors even stopping her to ask for a selfie. “I’ve learnt a lot about myself, I don’t get pressured or nervous anymore at these big shows which really helps to stay calm.”


Tina brings the glamour to The Binks Family Show Hunter Pony of the Year Championship

Julie Bankier rode Kate Bankier’s bay mare, Toncynfigg Liberty X (Tina), to victory in The Binks Family Show Hunter Pony of the Year Championship at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS), rounding off her last year in Show Hunter Pony classes in style.

The Binks Family Show Hunter Pony of the Year Championship, Julie Bankier riding Toncynfigg Liberty X. © 1st Class Images

Rising up the ranks from their third-place finish in the 153cm class last year, Julie and the seven-year-old mare, Tina, qualified for HOYS first time out and have only done a bit of light showing this season.

The mare has been based at Adam Winbourne’s yard in Hampshire since the family bought her two and a half years ago. Adam said: “She has a lot of quality and she’s very glamorous… She’s also very mannerly and went superbly in the ring today.”

This was Julie’s third HOYS win but her first Championship. She’ll now move on to Intermediate classes next season with a new ride. In the meantime, all eyes will be on the pair in the Ruckleigh School Supreme Pony of the Year Championship.

It was a good day for the large Show Hunter Ponies, as the Reserve Champion also came from the 153cm class; second placed CSF Chantilly Galway Girl (Dolly) owned by Lorraine Scott and ridden by Jessica Reed-Else.

Jessica started riding the six-year-old in May this year and they’ve fitted a lot into their first season together. She is based with Emma-Jayne Dujardin but Jessica will bring her home over the winter.

This is Jessica’s highest achievement to date in her riding career. She first competed at HOYS in 2012 in the First Ridden Mountain & Moorland class when they finished eighth.

The plan now is to come out again next year and contest some Intermediate classes.

The winner of the 143cm class was on her second celebration of HOYS 2019. Lydia Trice returned fresh from her Reserve Championship win in The Baker-Beall Family Intermediate Show Riding Type of the Year yesterday. This time it was her mother Victoria’s pony, Little Miss Darcey (Darcey), who delighted her support team with a win.

The seven-year-old part bred mare was backed by Penny Hollings and had only been to one show before she came to Lydia three years ago.

Lydia said: “I adore her. She’s heaven to ride, so soft, forward and balanced. You can go over any ground out hacking and she stays balanced.”

Unconvinced she could make it two HOYS wins when she woke up this morning, Lydia has rounded off her penultimate year in Show Hunter Ponies very nicely.

The 133cm section was won by a pony who went to his new owner, Abbi Vaughan, straight from HOYS last year. Scalacre Eclipse (Bert) was found by producer Julie Templeton for his new rider, Grace Vaughan.

“We introduced Grace to him [Bert] at HOYS and they have spent the year getting to know him,” said Julie, who explained that Bert has lots of personality and character. “I was very pleased with how he went today. He was nice and forward; he just flowed.”

This was Grace’s first HOYS win and she also enjoys pony racing, having previously competed in the Shetland Pony Grand National.

The final section of the day was the 122cm Show Hunter Ponies. Nine-year-old Harry Edwards-Brady delighted the crowds when he took the spoils on his mother Emma’s pony, Gryngallt Page Too (Billy).

Harry made his first appearance at HOYS 2013, aged just three, when he qualified for two lead rein classes and grabbed the attention of the national press due to his young age. He’s qualified for HOYS every year since and last year was his first year off of the lead rein, finishing second.

The Welsh Section B has been produced by Sam Quiney for the past two years and Emma says Sam has “helped Harry no end.”

“He [Harry] said this morning he was going to win,” laughed Emma. Harry has three years left in 122cm classes, so he and Billy will have plenty of opportunities to defend their winning title.


British riders tie in the Five Fence Challenge

Five riders made it through to the final round of the Five Fence Challenge at Horse of the Year Show and it was a British tie for Robert Whitaker and Emma Stoker as the only two riders to keep all five fences standing. With the Abbey Road fence at number three catching out the other challengers, it left just Robert and Emma to tackle the final vertical which stood at 1.85m.

Emma Stoker rode a spectacular round with Kontador VDM owned by Lisa Bruggeman and Walter Lelie as the first rider clear in round five. Originally from Durham, Emma has recently made the move to Belgium to ride with Axel Verlooy. Having only been riding the nine-year-old bay gelding for six weeks, it is just the start of things to come from this superstar combination. “He’s been fantastic all week; he was second in the Grandstand Welcome Stakes on Friday and just had a fence down last night in the Accumulator. I’ve never jumped a course that big before in my life and he just couldn’t wait to jump it. He’s only nine but he always tried his best; he is definitely in the right job.”

Five Fence Challenge, Robert Whitaker riding Cash Sent and Emma Stoker riding Kontador VDM. © 1st Class Images

Yesterday’s winner of the Accumulator and the renowned Puissance class, Robert Whitaker, was last to go. Shrugging off the pressure, Robert took his third win of the week riding 12-year-old gelding Cash Sent, owned by Elaine Wood. A man who knows how to ride the big tracks, Robert set the horse up perfectly to each jump making little fuss of the towering fences. “He performed really well. The first round was a bit touch and go but he got better each round. He’s used to jumping Grand Prix classes, so this was a bit different for him. I’ve been riding him for a while now, so I know him well and he is good at the bigger fences. I’m having a great week; usually at these shows you hope to have at least one horse going well, so to have all three in good form is fantastic.”


Fun with Rivervalley Flash Jack

Rivervalley Flash Jack lights up the Junior Mountain & Moorland Ridden Championship Sponsored by Ponies Association (UK).

Junior Mountain & Moorland Ridden Championship Sponsored by Ponies Association (UK), Amy Tate riding Rivervalley Flash Jack. © 1st Class Images

A Welsh Section C pony with a liking for work has won the Junior Mountain & Moorland Ridden Championship Sponsored by Ponies Association (UK), after going one better on last year’s second place in the Large Breed class. Rivervalley Flash Jack (Jack) is owned by Janet Cox and is eight years old.

Amy Tate gained the ride on Jack in 2017, and the pair have competed in a lot of dressage as well as undertaking showing qualifiers. Amy had always been so close to HOYS qualification with previous ponies, but never quite managed to grasp the golden ticket.

“He’s so much fun to ride,” said Amy. “I can ask him to do anything… he likes to have a job to do. He wouldn’t be happy stuck out in a field.”

A homebred Highland pony stood Reserve Champion, after finishing second to Amy and Jack in the Large Breed class. Austin of Miltonglen is owned by Kirsty Faulkner and ridden by Olivia Faulkner.

He had time out last year while the family moved house but has made up for it by competing at 5 shows this year. Kirsty also owns his sire, Oscar of Edinglassie, and Olivia rode him in the Open Mountain & Moorland class at HOYS in 2016. They were placed eighth.

Olivia is now hoping to progress to Open classes with Austin as well. Reflecting on the Championship, she said: “We’re overwhelmed, it’s the best feeling ever.”

The winner of the Small Breed class was Sarah Drake’s Welsh Section B Cadlanvalley Allegro ridden by daughter Annabel.

They qualified for HOYS in their Novice season last year and finished seventh.

Sarah said: “He’s got a classic Cadlanvalley temperament. He’s very laid back and a real family pony.”

Second placed in the Small Breed class was Sharon Wilson’s Welsh Section A, Thistledown San-Siro, ridden by Hannah Wilson.


Welcome the return of William Whitaker in the Speed Horse of the Year

Making his return to Horse of the Year Show very worthwhile, William Whitaker secured his victory in the Speed Horse of the Year class on the final day of competition. William last competed at the show in 2015 in national competitions but it is his first year competing here in international classes.

Aboard RMF Echo, a 15-year-old chestnut mare owned by Rushy Marsh Farm LLC, William had his foot on the throttle as he took on the 1.45m course against the clock. Navigating some clever turns he jumped into first place on a time of 45.40 seconds. Hot on William’s heels was French rider Max Thirouin who rode an impressive round but had to settle for second place, just 0.03 seconds outside the time.

Speed Horse of the Year 2019, William Whitaker riding RMF Echo. © 1st Class Images. © 1st Class Images

Speaking of his win, William commented: “It’s great to be back here competing. I’ve had a fairly quiet week up to now, the horses have jumped well and I’m really using this as part of the transition to the indoor season. I had my plan of what I wanted to do, and I stuck to it and then I just had to sit and watch. A few people came close but it feels great to take the win. This is an exciting horse; he is very experienced, and he is always right there with me, anticipating what’s next. I started riding him in January this year and we have been competing on the continent.”

William spends most of the summer riding in Germany and the winter riding in Florida, away from his wife and children in Huddersfield. “It’s one of the few competitions I have done in Britain this year, so I’m really pleased to be going home with a win.”


Top two for Team Ross in the Topham Barnes Riding Horse of the Year Championship

Team Ross rounded off a fabulous week at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) when her Small and Large Riding Horses both won their classes and took Champion and Reserve Champion in the Topham Barnes Riding Horse of the Year Championship.

Diane Stennett’s Small Riding Horse, Casino III, has been knocking on the door of the Riding Horse Championship for the past four years. Jayne Ross has had three wins with her and two Reserve titles, but today they finally clinched the overall Championship.

Topham Barnes Riding Horse of the Year Championship 2019, Jayne Ross riding Casino III. © 1st Class Images. © 1st Class Images

The 11-year-old Warmblood was bought by Diane as a novice six years ago and she was very excited to watch her take the honours today.

Diane’s daughter, Lucy Cameron, said: “She [Casino III] is so consistent and reliable; she’s never let us down. She has that ‘sit up and look at me’ attitude.”

The winner of the Large Riding Horse and Reserve Champion was CSF Cummer Paradise (Audrey), owned by Tony Reynolds and Michael Cook.

Ciara Mullen took the ride on Audrey in the Championship. The seven-year-old mare was backed as a three-year-old at Jayne’s and has been placed in this class here at HOYS since 2017, getting better and better each year.

She was also placed second in the British Show Horse Association Ladies Side Saddle Horse of the Year Championship here on Wednesday.

Both horses will now go back to their owners for the winter season.

Reflecting on her week so far, Jayne said: “They [the horses] have all put their best foot forward this week and gone so fantastically.”

Second placed in the Small and Large classes were Ian Darcy’s Westerdale Regal Max, ridden by Callum Potts, and Kim Colosso’s Trenavey Rational Choice, ridden by Rae Colosso.


Coco Bongo crowned Ruckleigh School Supreme Pony of the Year

Ruckleigh School Supreme Pony of the Year 2019, Chloe Lemieux riding Coco Bongo. © Julian Portch

Coco Bongo strikes all the right notes to be crowned Ruckleigh School Supreme Pony of the Year.

The Working Hunter Pony Champion from earlier in the week at Horse of the Year Show has taken the ultimate accolade in showing.

Coco Bongo proved that her presence under the spotlight is as compelling as her jump when she beat off all other pony Champions from across the week to be crowned the Ruckleigh School Supreme Pony of the Year 2019.

The 10-year-old grey mare is owned by William Calder, and Chloe Lemieux has had the ride on her here at HOYS; their fifth show together. Chloe is riding the pony in 133cm Workers while William’s daughter Jessica is currently in Nursery Stakes classes with her.

A delighted Chloe said: “I was really happy to be in there [the Andrews Bowen International Arena] and not expecting it at all!”

William added: “It’s surreal. We were hoping for the best but when it happened we couldn’t believe it.”

Coco Bongo had a huge support team with her including Chloe’s mum and dad, Lisa and Robert; William, Jessica and family; and Chloe’s trainer Sam Roberts.

Chloe’s dad, Robert Lemieux, said: “Sam started Chloe in showing and she has been a guiding light.

“Showing is a really good foundation and she wouldn’t be as strong or technical a rider as she is now without it.”

Coco Bongo has been very consistent this season, placing second with Chloe and Jessica in the 133cm and Nursery Stakes at the Royal International Horse Show, and winning both classes at the Royal Highland Show.

Sam said the pony has “shown such versatility” and Jessica will now progress with her HOYS Champion pony next season.


Reigning champions Win Again

Thistledown Developments Pony Club Mounted Games Prince Philip Cup, West Hants Pony Club. © Julian Portch

Reigning champions take home the Thistledown Developments Pony Club Mounted Games Prince Philip Cup.

West Hants Pony Club do it again in the final of the Thistledown Developments Pony Club Mounted Games Prince Philip Cup. Entering the final round of games in the lead on 81 points, there was still all to play for with the double points on offer at Horse of the Year Show.

The four teams through to the final round were; West Hants Pony Club, Atherstone Hunt Pony Club, Staff College & Sandhurst Hunt Pony Club and Strathearn Branch of the Pony Club. The Games this year were themed around the Pony Club’s 90th birthday and included games such as the balloon race, the birthday cake race and the traditional flag race with a celebratory twist.

With three riders from last year’s winning team, West Hants members led the way in the Pony Club’s 90th anniversary year. Showing great camaraderie, athleticism and skill, they embodied everything Prince Philip wanted to achieve when he set up the games 62 years ago. Going into the last game over 20 points ahead of the other three teams, it was clear that they would be out right winners.

The final scores were as follows:

  • West Hants: 127 points
  • Atherstone Hunt: 95 points
  • Staff College & Sandhurst Hunt: 85 points
  • Strathern: 83 points

The West Hants Branch was established in 1967 and their mounted games team is trained today by Jo Morris. Team member Libby Hawkins spoke for the team: “It’s absolutely amazing to win here once let alone twice! We just wanted to go out there and have fun because it is the last year on the team for some of us. Competing in the arena in front of so many people is an amazing feeling.”


14th win for Team Bedford

Fellthorpe Esther Jane claims 14th win for Team Bedford in the Shire Horse of the Year Championship supported by the Shire Horse Society.

Shire Horse of the Year Championship supported by the Shire Horse Society 2019, Paul Bedford riding Fellthorpe Esther Jane. © Julian Portch

Fellthorpe Esther Jane stood Shire Horse of the Year Champion on the final evening of Horse of the Year Show, making it 14 wins for Paul Bedford’s team.

They first took the Championship, which is supported by the Shire Horse Society, in 1985 and have had numerous winners including multiple champions, Landcliffe Laura and Metherington Upton Hamlet.

A delighted Paul said the win is “just as nice as the first time around.”

“The judge said that the minute he landed his eyes on her [the mare] there was nothing to touch her. That was really nice to hear.

“She represents the Shire breed right down to the final bit.”

When Esther Oliver was ready to sell Fellthorpe Esther Jane two years ago, she decided to sell her to Paul. Esther had only ever competed the mare at a low level and wanted Paul to take her on and see how far she could go. Esther was in the audience tonight to see her wishes come true.

The nine-year-old bay mare had a foal in the Spring, which was weaned just a month ago, so she hasn’t been out to any major shows this year. The plan is to put her back in foal before another season showing.

Martin Fountain’s two-year-old colt, Woodhouse Rainman, took the runner-up spot. The colt is by the late HOYS Champion, Metherington Upton Hamlet, and out of another HOYS Champion, Woodhouse Calendar Girl.


It was the luck of the Irish in the Leading Showjumper of the Year

It was a great day for Irish Showjumping on the final day of competition at Horse of the Year Show. Not only did the Irish showjumping team secure qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Barcelona, but Irish rider David Simpson joined an illustrious list of winners to take the Leading Showjumper of the Year at the NEC in Birmingham.

There was a strong field of contenders for this Grand Prix track designed by Kelvin Bywater, with 16 horse and rider combinations through to the jump off. With a mix of youth and experienced riders, the jump off separated the field seeing very few double clears.. David Simpson took some brave turns riding 13-year-old bay mare Gentlemen VH Veldhof and came over the finish in an unbeatable time of 33.43 seconds. Harry Charles had to settle for second place with Valkiry De Zance and Michael Whitaker in third with Strides Hilanasterne.

Leading Showjumper of the Year 2019, David Simpson riding Gentlemen VH Veldhof. © Julian Portch

Speaking of his win ahead of the HOYS finale, David commented: “He’s an incredible horse and I really have to thank the owners for the opportunity to ride him; without the horse we are nothing. I only started riding him a week before the Hickstead Derby and then a month later we won the Queen’s Cup, another month later we were jumping double clear in the Nations Cup in Gijon, and then a further month later we are winning here at HOYS.

“He is very consistent, and a big jumper but he is not particularly fast, so I really wanted to ride to his strengths. When I walked the jump off course I thought ‘wow this is tough’. The field of riders was so strong this year, there wasn’t anyone who I thought couldn’t beat me. I made my plan on which turns I was going to make and stuck to it. To win this Grand Prix here is an incredible feeling. It is something which I have watched since I was a kid and I am so happy to be part of what is Horse of the Year Show.”

Tonight’s Grand Prix course proved extra special, as it was the final time course builder Bob Ellis would be lifting a pole or measuring a distance in the Andrews Bowen International Arena. David continues: “To win the final track of Bob Ellis’ time at Horse of the Year Show is a real honour. He is a great friend of mine and what he has brought to our sport is unbelievable.”

David dedicated his win tonight to his teammate, Kevin Babington who suffered a catastrophic fall whilst competing in New York this summer.


Twinshock Warrior conquers

Supreme Products Supreme Horse of the Year Championship 2019, Jayne Ross riding Twinshock Warrior. © Julian Portch

Twinshock Warrior conquers the Supreme Products Supreme Horse of the Year Championship.

Twinshock Warrior, Jill Marsden and Tanya Moulden’s stunning Heavyweight Hunter, has fought off all the other Champions to be crowned Supreme Products Supreme Horse of the Year at Horse of the Year Show 2019.

The seven-year-old went beautifully under the spotlights with Jayne Ross, upping his game from his novice appearance last year to Supreme Horse today.

In addition to his sheer quality and showmanship, the gelding is a true hunter and will be out hunting over the winter before coming in again ready for the 2020 show season.

Jill and Tanya first spotted the horse in their neighbour’s field and climbed the fence to get a better look. They’d been searching for a new show horse and it turned out that their neighbour had bought him to hunt. They purchased him as a three-year-old.

“We’ve both believed in him so much and have taken our time with him,” said Jill. “We knew we had to give him to a very special lady and the team [Team Ross] have nurtured him in all the right ways.”

Team Ross have had an incredible week with four horses qualifying for the Supreme Products Supreme Horse of the Year, something that they haven’t come close to since 2009, so it was an emotional win for Jayne who chose Twinshock Warrior for her ride in the Championship.

“I kept thinking any minute that the bubble is going to burst, but it just hasn’t,” said Jayne.

“It’s so difficult to get here, then win a class, and then to go Supreme… so much work goes on behind the scenes.”

“They’ve all gone so fantastically and really raised their game.”


Stars of the racing world come together on the final night of Horse of the Year Show

Special guests Sir Anthony McCoy and ITV Racing presenter Luke Harvey joined in the celebrations on the final evening of Horse of the Year Show 2019 in a very special parade of racing heroes.

The ‘Celebrating Our Racing Heroes’ parade was held in association with British Horseracing’s official charity, Retraining of Racehorses (RoR). It gave the Sunday night HOYS crowd the opportunity to see 12 racing icons from the past two decades and provide an insight into their new careers.

Luke and Sir Anthony provided commentary as the horses paraded around the Andrews Bowen International Arena, and there was another familiar face, showing producer and HOYS regular, Katie Jerram-Hunnable riding one of the ex-racers, Cue Card. Luke also read the famous Ode to the Horse later on in the evening; the traditional close to the Show.

Sir Anthony had arrived at HOYS earlier in the day to support his daughter, Eve, in the 128cm Championship.

He said: “It’s great to see the Show supporting a fantastic charity like RoR, and the display is a brilliant way of promoting the remarkable careers that racehorses go on to have after their retirement from the industry.

“I won on Big Bucks several times as well as Neptune Collonges, and I got beaten by Sprinter Sacre. It’s wonderful to see them all here at Horse of the Year Show.”

Sir Anthony is a big supporter and patron of RoR, as is Clare Balding OBE, who was also out and about at HOYS on Friday and Saturday in the Live Zone, signing her children’s book The Racehorse Who Learned to Dance.

Clare said: “RoR creates wonderful partnerships between thoroughbreds and people to get the best out of both and proves you can certainly teach an old horse new tricks!”

RoR was founded in 2000 and is committed to providing retired racehorses with a career off of the track, by promoting their versatility and intelligence across equestrian disciplines. HOYS was a perfect platform to spread the word further.

‘Celebrating Our Racing Heroes’ Parade, Sprinter Sacre led by Vicky. © Julian Portch

Here are the horses, which were in attendance, and a little about their new careers:

  1. Balthazar King, 15-years-old, is a French-bred bay gelding, British trained thoroughbred racehorse. In 2015, he sustained a potentially life-threatening injury when he fractured four ribs and punctured a lung following a fall at Aintree. After making a wonderful recovery to race again, he retired in 2016 to enjoy life in the hunting field with Izzi Beckett, who is also riding him in the parade. Balthazar King is a superb ladies hunter, equally happy gunning hedges up front or out the back with a pony on a lead rein.
  2. Big Buck’s, 16-years-old, was trained as a hurdler by Paul Nicholls, famously winning 18 races in a row and amassing more than £1,300,000 in prize money throughout his illustrious career before retiring in 2014. He has since embarked on a second career in the hunting field and is being thoroughly spoiled by the doting Lucy Felton, who also rode him in the parade.
  3. Coneygree, the first novice winner of the Gold Cup in more than 41 years, is a 12-year-old British-bred National Hunt racehorse who was trained throughout his career by Mark Bradstock. Upon his retirement his trainers Mark and Sara Bradstock commented: “I’m only sad about retiring him because he loves it, he still thinks he’s a racehorse.” Coneygree was ridden in the parade by Sara Bradstock.
  4. Cue Card, 13-years-old, a specialist steeplechaser, was trained in Dorset by Colin Tizzard and ridden by son Joe Tizzard until his retirement in 2014, when the reins were then passed to Daryl Jacobs and Paddy Brennan. Since retiring, Cue Card has been retrained for the show ring by Katie Jerram-Hunnable and recently made a winning return to Aintree on his debut at the RoR Goffs UK National Championships. Cue Card was ridden by Katie Jerram-Hunnable.
  5. Pineau De Re, 16-years-old, is best known for his 25-1 win in the 2014 Grand National at Aintree. He had a fine career that also included a third place at the Cheltenham Festival. In 2003 he became the first horse since Bindaree to win another race after the Grand National. His last win came at Carlisle in December 2015 before retiring aged 13 to join the world of eventing. He is now living in Lizzie Doolittle’s yard in Worcestershire and Lizzie rode him in the parade.
  6. Sovereign Debt, 10-years-old, was trained initially by Michael Bell, then later on in his career by David Nicholls and finally by Ruth Carr who jointly developed Sovereign Debt into one of the most popular flat horses in training. Following his retirement in 2018, Sovereign Debt has gone on to compete extremely successfully in the show ring, qualifying for the RoR Goff’s National Championships at Aintree. He was ridden by Jill Wormall.
  7. Zarkandar, 12-years-old, snatched the title in one of his three flat races before being gelded and becoming a specialist hurdler. Zarkandar, lovingly known as ‘Gino’ in his new yard, was crowned the best juvenile hurdler of the 2010/11 National Hunt season before retiring in 2018. He is being retrained for showing and dressage, which he has enjoyed competing in this year. He was ridden today by Lucinda Sims.
  8. Bindaree, 25-years-old, is best known for winning the Grand National in 2002 ridden by Jim Culloty, before going on to win the Welsh National the following season ridden by Carl Lewellyn. Now 25 years old, he is retired and stabled at his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies’ yard at Naunton in Gloucestershire, and joined the parade being led up by Richard Bevis.
  9. Neptune Collonges, 18- years-old, is a firm public favourite led by Tim Wilkins. Retiring from racing to the Hales’ family home in Shropshire in 2012 aged 11, ‘Nipper’, as he’s affectionately known, has raised thousands for charities through public appearances and hospital visits since his last competitive run.
  10. Sprinter Sacre, 13-years-old, is a French-bred, British-trained Selle Français racehorse renowned for his power and grace. Retiring in 2016 at 10 years of age and joining us with Vicky Roberts, the champion chaser was regarded by some as the best since Arkle, holding the third highest ever Timeform steeplechase rating of 192.
  11. The New One, 11-years-old, is an ever popular Irish-bred, British trained thoroughbred racehorse who competed with great success in National Hunt races until he retired in December 2018. He is now in the loving care of Wayne Jones, who led The New One in the parade.
  12. Mon Mome, the first 100-1 shot to win since Foinavon in 1967, Mon Mome shot to fame in 2009 by winning the Grand National with his jockey Liam Treadwell and then went on to finish an impressive third in the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Affectionately known as ‘Monnie’ by his owner Vida Bingham and guardian Sarah McQueen, he retired in 2013 and now enjoys life at Sarah’s Herefordshire based yard hacking through some nearby woods. He will be led in the parade by Sarah McQueen.


A fond farewell to Horse of the Year Show legends

There were some emotional goodbyes this weekend as we saw HOYS stalwarts work on the show one last time before enjoying a well-earned retirement.

Bob Ellis awarded the Horse of the Year Show Equestrian of the Year trophy

Equestrian of the Year 2019, Bob Ellis and Sandy Anderson. © Julian Portch

To have one successful career takes talent; to have more takes a special person. Bob Ellis began riding in the 1970s. In his early career, he worked alongside Nations Cup rider, and eventual BBC commentator, Steve Hadley. It was during that time he not only jumped a pole but learnt how to place one too. While holding shows at Hadley’s base at Hilton Park, Bob discovered a second string to his bow: course designing. Unbeknown to many, he also successfully turned his hand to training.

Since those days, Bob has designed thousands of courses in an illustrious career that has taken him to more than 33 countries. He first lifted a measuring stick at HOYS in 1975 under the leadership of Alan Ball and has been the maestro behind an encyclopaedia of courses ever since. Affectionately known as ‘Bob the Builder’, he is undoubtedly one of the finest and most highly respected course designers in the world. From Dubai to Dublin, from Harrogate to Calgary, he has built in some of the most prestigious arenas with his own distinctive flair.

With a CV that is brimming with Pony European Championships, Young Rider Europeans, Junior Europeans, Senior European Championships, World Cups and Nations Cups, his crowning achievement is the London 2012 Olympic Games. Recalling his fondest career memory when Great Britain won team gold at London 2012, Bob said: “I cried. We all cried! That was some moment.”

This year sadly marks the end of a chapter in Bob’s career as he takes a step back from course designing at HOYS and at many shows worldwide. In the same way that he learnt his trade from the greats, Bob has spent many years sharing his experience with the next generation of course designers. Bob has always had time for everyone, supporting the best and the just plain enthusiastic! Bob will be no stranger to the Show in the future, but it is his knowledge, achievements, expertise and fond character that make him a very worthy recipient of this year’s Equestrian of the Year trophy.

Taking a break in between rounds on Puissance night at HOYS, the highly esteemed Equestrian of the Year trophy was presented to Bob by Chairman of Grandstand Media Ltd, Mr Sandy Anderson. Taking a moment to collect his emotions, Bob waved to the crowd who raised the roof in celebration of his lifetime of achievements.

A humbled Bob commented after the class: “I had absolutely no idea and it is such an honour. Having been a part of HOYS for 44 years it’s quite emotional to be saying goodbye. But I will be back next year as a spectator and I am confident that I am leaving it in good hands.”

This evening ‘Bob the Builder’ built his last course in the Andrews Bowen International Arena. He has done so much for the equestrian world on a global scale and he will be sorely missed by all who worked with him.

Danny Wilson, Pony Club steward, retires from HOYS after 25 years

This year at Horse of the Year Show sees a poignant end to the career of another long-standing member of the HOYS team. Danny Wilson has stewarded for the Pony Club Mounted Games at HOYS for over 25 years. Having first stepped in to help with the games in 1993 when the show was at Wembley and Danny’s children were involved in the Pony Club, he has seen mounted games winners go on to have successful careers both in and out of the saddle. Thousands of children have benefitted from his guidance and experience and it is to this end that we extend our gratitude. Surprised by his presentation of an award in the Andrews Bowen International Arena on Sunday afternoon, Danny explained: “It’s been great fun and a privilege to be involved with the show for so many years. The people are amazing, and I have genuinely made life-long friends.”

FEI Chief Veterinary delegate, James Sutton retires after 45 years at Horse of the Year Show

In a show that has been in existence for over 70 years, it is inevitable that the time will come to say goodbye to some of the great people who have made it happen. As a third farewell, we say goodbye to Horse of the Year Show’s FEI Chief Veterinary delegate, James Sutton. The vets at HOYS work tirelessly behind the scenes to protect the welfare of the 1,600 horses and ponies who compete throughout the week. After 45 years of service James has embarked on his retirement with a presentation from Grandstand Media’s chairman, Mr Sandy Anderson.

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