October 10, 2016 at 12:29 AM


Horse of the Year Show: Day Five Round Up


An emotional Cian O'Connor dedicated victory to his late mother after he won the Leading Showjumper of the Year grand prix on the final night of Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) at Birmingham's NEC.

Irish star Cian, individual bronze medallist at the London Olympics four years ago, guided Super Sox home and claimed a top prize of £13,200 in a thrilling jump-off.

Cian prevailed by just four hundredths of a second from runner-up John Whitaker, on his Rio Olympics ride Ornellaia, while Robert Bevis and Courtney Z finished third.

"I am delighted," Cian said. "This is a very prestigious grand prix, so it is one I have always wanted to get my hands on.

"I was going for a walk this morning, and I thought back to my last time here two years ago, and I had to leave here after the second day because I got the very sad news that my mum had passed away.

"My mum was always the type of person who would do anything for you, and I just thought I am going to win that grand prix tonight, and if I do, I will dedicate it to my mum."

John, meanwhile, received a rapturous reception from his adoring British audience as the 61-year-old Yorkshireman displayed his trademark world-class quality.

"Ornellaia did everything I asked, and you have got to be pleased with that," he said. "And when you get a huge welcome like that if lifts you and gives you confidence to fight for it."

Ireland's Shane Breen and Acoustik Solo du Baloubet hit top gear to be crowned Zinc Management Speed Horse of the Year. Sussex-based Shane and the 10-year-old gelding thrilled their audience as they won in a time of 44.69 seconds to land the £3,300 top prize.

Shane's Ireland Nations Cup colleague Billy Twomey was second aboard Ardcolum Duke, while Britain's Guy Williams finished third with Casper de Muze.

"I watched Billy go, which I thought was the marker, and yesterday in the accumulator I was a fraction slower than Billy, so I knew our horses are about the same speed," Shane said.

"He had one extra stride to the double, so I thought if I could go one less stride there I could get a smidgen up. I just did enough to put some pressure on Guy, and it worked."

Louise Saywell produced a dominant display to win the Horse of the Year Show Challenge Cup in emphatic fashion.

It was Louise's second international triumph at this year's show, as she landed the two-phase class by more than four seconds on 11-year-old gelding Feigtling from James Smith and Balibu, with Ireland's Shane Breen, riding Tango d'Ecry, finishing third.

Belgium's Jos Verlooy, who was drawn last to go on Farfelu de la Pomme, shaved 69 hundredths of a second off Louise's time, but the combination had a late fence down which destroyed victory hopes.

"He got all the turns, but being first in, I didn't think we would stay in the lead and win," Louise said.

"He jumped great in the first phase, and then it was about going as fast as we could. He managed to get all the turns, but when I came out of the arena I thought there would be faster rounds, but luckily for me, there wasn't."

And Louise Simpson showcased all her experience to win the Speedi-Beet Grade C Championship for a second time. Louise launched the final day of action with a stylish display on seven-year-old gelding Hello Vivendi, which is owned by Irish showjumping brothers Shane and Trevor Breen.

Sussex-based Louise, formerly Louise Pavitt, claimed the Grade C title five years ago on Don VHP Z, and this latest victory cemented her place on the long-established class's roll of honour alongside riders like current Olympic individual champion Nick Skelton.

The Showing Championships came to a thrilling climax as the Ripon Select Foods Supreme Horse of the Year was crowned. Caroline Tyrrells’ Lightweight Cob, Our Cashel Blue took the ultimate accolade ridden by Allister Hood. 

Allister said: “There was such a fantastic atmosphere in there tonight. We even got applauded when we walked in.”

Reflecting on the quality of contenders in this year’s Supreme, Allister said: “We had to do an individual show in the preliminary judging. I was last to go and I knew it had to be perfection. It was one of the best Supremes I’d seen for performance.”

The Ruckleigh School Supreme Pony of the Year followed. It was the Kathleen Wood Children’s Riding Pony of the Year Champion, Joanne Price’s 10-year-old bay gelding Litton Enterprise who took the prestigious title, granting daughter Phoebe her “biggest dream ever.”

Edward, as he is known at home, is a laid back pony but one who rises to a challenge and tonight was no exception.

Joanne said: “In the middle of this season everything just clicked between them. It’s absolutely brilliant. What else can you do to up it?”

The first showing Championship of the day was the SEIB Search for a Star; a culmination of all the classes over the last few days.  The winning Show Hunter was crowned Champion, Yorkies Purple Diamond owned by Vicki Rogers. Vicki bought the mare as a yearling, initially to be a broodmare and she has produced two beautiful foals for Vicki.

Next in the Andrews Bowen International Arena was the inaugural Ridden Heavy Horse of the Year Championship.  An ecstatic Virginia Osborne was on cloud nine after riding her mother Marguerite Osborne’s Clydesdale Kinclune Danny Boy to victory. “Thank you so much to HOYS for putting us in that Arena. I was so proud of all the heavies in there!” she said.

Annabel Jenks’ Large Riding Horse, Diamonds are Forever secured Allister Hood a hatrick of wins with a victory in the Riding Horse of the Year Championship.

The seven-year-old by Diamond Hit was bred by Annabel. He was shown twice as a four-year-old and then left to grow until this season, making him quite a young horse in terms of mileage. HOYS is his fifth show this year and he has been unbeaten as a Riding Horse, going first and Champion at every outing.

Champion in the Topham Barnes Show Hunter Pony of the Year was the winner of the 143cm section, 10-year-old Wycroft New Dimension. Owned by Anne McKay, the pony has only been ridden by jockey Jessica Renshaw-Smith for a few months, having sadly lost their 14hh pony. Jessica qualified the bay gelding, who is by Cusop Dimension, at the Great Yorkshire Show.

Hayley Sankey’s Tobiano gelding The Life of Riley beat off stiff competition to claim the title of Coloured Horse & Pony of the Year Champion sponsored by CHAPS (UK). Vicky Smith rode 10-year-old The Life of Riley to victory in the Native/Cob/Traditional section earlier in the day. He is home produced and Hayley and Vicky share the ride at shows. “He’s a really special horse,” said Vicky.

Over in the TopSpec Arena Rupert Till’s Rotherwood Rainmaker produced a foot-perfect performance to take the title of Equissage Pulse Ridden Partbred Pony of the Year. Rupert’s daughter India rode the pony to success in the third year of the class’ history. The nine-year-old, by Rotherwood Peter Pan out of Rotherwood Spring Flower, qualified with Jessica at Stoneleigh Horse Show and the pair have been together for over a year.

Finally, Chloe Chubb’s Welsh Section B Laithehill Flute will go down in the record books as the first LEGO Friends Junior Mountain & Moorland Ridden Pony of the Year Champion after 14-year-old Kinvara Garner rode him to victory.

Kinvara was one of 24 young riders who have had an additional chance to compete at this year’s Show, thanks to the new Championship. Many small breed M&M classes are dominated by senior adult competitors, which is potentially stifling young riders from progressing, and this class has given a new opportunity to young future stars.

East Kent Hunt, meanwhile, made history when they won the Virbac 3D Worming Pony Club Mounted Games and landed the prestigious Prince Philip Cup.

Five days of competition reached a thrilling conclusion with four teams - East Kent, defending champions Monmouthshire, Oakley Hunt West and Romney Marsh - contest a final set of games across 25 minutes' breathless action.

And it was the East Kent that prevailed, thrilling their large contingent of travelling support sat high up in the arena as the team of Brooke Kind, Ellie Tutt, Megan Tutt, Imogen Lyons, Charlotte Giles and Abbie Bean triumphed.

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