As we countdown to HOYS we continue our look at the people who have been firmly at the heart of the show over a long period of time, contributing to the show’s success and longevity over all these years. Their hard work and dedication are one of the reasons why this year we will all come together to celebrate 70 years of Horse of the Year Show.
Last time we heard from Val Turner, Andrews Bowen International Arena controller who shared her humorous stories and memories from HOYS. This month we hear from Frances Youngs who has been involved with HOYS for 23 years and is the TopSpec Arena controller.
“I first began assisting at Horse of the Year Show in 1995. My first role was as ‘Showing Judges Liaison’ a new role created to assist the show stewarding team as a result of more showing classes being added, combined with the redevelopment of Wembley which in turn made moving around the show site more complex. Therefore it was important judges were in the right place at the right time.”
“My husband, John had been involved with the show for some time as an FEI show jumping judge. I was very ‘at home’ at HOYS because I had some form of involvement with the show almost every year since I was 16, missing only two shows, one in 1993 when I was on my honeymoon! And last year (2017) when I had a personal injury a few days before the show.”
Over the years Frances has experienced many incredible moments, but two memories in particular stand out.
“One of my fondest moments is the 2014 HOYS when my husband John and I were invited to judge the Supreme Champion; stepping into the arena under the lights for final judging was an amazing experience. The other standout moments were in 2002 and 2005 seeing Jean–Francois Pignon’s display. I was completely mesmerised and watched his performance every evening.”
Throughout her 23 year involvement there have been many changes made to the show but none more profound or impactful than the move to the NEC in Birmingham in 2002, contributing to the show’s vast expansion.
“The move to Birmingham has to be the biggest change, combined with the size of the show. We now have so many more classes, it is such a huge operation. The TopSpec Arena as it is now known is in its third location since moving to Birmingham due to the growth of the Show.”
As Frances explains the atmosphere in and around the TopSpec arena is both unique and contagious. “The atmosphere of the arena is amazing and you get a real buzz when the winner goes on their lap of honour.”
HOYS has also moved with the tide implementing changes helping to maintain its relevance in the equestrian world, the changes helping contribute to the overall spectacle and party atmosphere which is always present during the Horse of the Year Show.
“Over the years a major change in Showing at HOYS is the music. At one time is was purely classical with no lyrics, now its popular chart music and the arena has an official dedicated to selecting titles throughout each day including music for fanfares and lap of honour.”
However, for Frances this year holds special significance, not only celebrating the 70th Anniversary but returning to the show after not being able to attend last year. “I am just looking forward to being back again; last year not being there was a painful experience in more ways than one. I am sure the 70th Anniversary year will be very special, particularly with four magnificent displays.”
We cannot wait to get the party started!! #HOYS2018