A fond farewell to Horse of the Year Show legends

Michelle Lane News

We had to say 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

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.

ENDS

For more information on Horse of the Year Show 2019, please contact Horse of the Year Show Press Office, Grandstand Media Ltd. Tel: 02476 858205. Email: press@hoys.co.uk

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