It was an emotional first HOYS victory for a delighted Gemma McClorey and her Shire gelding Cotebrook Sgurr Alasdair (Al) in The Barber Family Ridden Heavy Horse of the Year Championship on the final day of Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).
A collection of Clydesdales and Shires filled the Andrews Bowen International Arena all hoping to take the title, but in the end William Morton piloted Al into the spotlight after impressing judges Katie Duxbury and David Curtis.
Eight-year-old Al has qualified for HOYS three times, but he was unable to compete in his first year after coming down with a virus just a few days before the show. Gemma rode him last year, finishing sixth, and this year everything has come together for them.
Will said: “Gemma asked if I would take the ride on Al this year. He was a bit green last year but this year he’s come out and he’s incredible.”
Gemma added: “I’m so grateful for this horse and Will – he’s taken us on an amazing journey. I bought him as a three-year-old stallion, so this is mine and Will’s work today.
“He hacks out at home and is going to go hunting at the end of the month. He’s my whole world.”
Brian Bisset’s Clydesdale, Stobilee Zac, stood Reserve ridden by Lucy May Stewart.
In its inaugural year, the Gogar Services Driven Heavy Horse of the Year Championship treated visitors to a fabulous presentation of 11 qualified heavy horses including Shires, Percherons and Clydesdales driving a two-wheeled show cart.
Wendy Toomer Harlow drove her Clydesdale Walton Bomber to victory. The bay gelding is 14 years old by Caeberllan Buskot out of Walton Lees Laura. Ailsa Noble’s Clydesdale Doura Lizzy stood Reserve.
Alongside the Ridden Championship, this new Driven Championship will help further support the work of the societies in promoting these breeds, some of which continue to feature on the rare and endangered breeds list.
A former racehorse flew the flag for the retraining of racehorses in the Epiony Riding Horse of the Year Championship. Minella Rebellion, owned and ridden by Katie Dashwood, floated around the Andrews Bowen International Arena to take the crown.
Minella Rebellion (Reg) is full brother to Cheltenham Festival winner and Grand National runner-up Balthazar King and raced five times in his career. This is his second HOYS Championship having stood SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse of the Year Champion in 2021.
Katie said: “To come and win a straight showing class with a horse off the track is fantastic for racehorses. I couldn’t believe it last time we won, but this I really don’t believe. I am so proud.
“When I brought him down here this morning at 5 o’clock he was absolutely with me every stride of the way. He was so light on his feet I could have put him on a grain of sand.”
Reg is produced by Jo Bates who said: “I am beyond proud of this pair. We’ve all worked hard as a team and Katie has worked her socks off.”
Samantha De La Hey’s bay Thoroughbred, Legend in Manhattan, stood Reserve with Gemma Rees in the saddle. He is half-brother to this year’s Champion Hack, Manhattan, both out of Maid in Manhattan.
Winner of The Gardner Family Small Riding Horse of the Year was Jane O’Keeffe’s Rosemore Midnight Rendezvous ridden by Justine Armstrong-Small.
There were two bittersweet wins in The Binks Family Show Hunter Pony of the Year as both the Champion and Reserve Champion will be going to their new homes after today.
Julie O’Donnell’s seven-year-old partbred mare, Morning Sunflower, stood Champion with Isabella O’Donnell in the saddle. Isabella won the 143cm section earlier in the day and the pony has not been out of the top two all season. Her impressive CV includes Champion at the Royal International, Supreme at the North of England Show and winning three out of three HOYS qualifiers.
“She’s such a willing mare and tries her heart out for me every time,” said Isabella.
Reserve Champion was the 153cm winner Nick Brookes’ Merrycorner Mister Bui ridden by Zara Brookes.
“I’m absolutely elated,” said Zara. “It’s nice to end on such a high.
“We’ve had him for three and a half seasons. We got him in lockdown and had lots of time to practice, so that when the shows restarted we were ready to kick off.”
Lesley Parker’s Welsh Section B Thistledown Sea Mariner won the 133cm section with Katie Parker while another Welsh Section B, Paul Mortimer’s Redlays Theseus took the red rosette in the 122cm section ridden by Izzy Walker.
It was a good day for Hannah Bradley celebrating her third HOYS centre line moment in the Miniature Horse of the Year Championship this time with her silver bay stallion Ujenik Extasys Fine Designs. The Ujenik Stud has bred four HOYS Champions since the class’ inception in 2000, two of which Hannah has won.
Hannah has had Miniatures for 15 years and bought this stallion as a 10-year-old. He was Reserve here last year.
She said: “I knew him well, so there was no question when he came up for sale that I would have him.”
Charity Black’s mare Pithill Paddocks One True Love stood Reserve.
The Coloured Horse and Pony of the Year Championship sponsored by CHAPS (UK) is the culmination of four very strong classes of Non-native horses and ponies and Native/Cob/Traditional horses and ponies.
This year’s Champion was the Non-native Pony winner; Tobiano mare Castra by Strinesdale Matador out of Fairfax C. Owned and bred by Stephanie Fitt, the seven-year-old is ridden by Rhianon Loader.
Castra is half brother to another of Stephanie’s home breds, Cleapatra, who stood Reserve in The Andrews Family Partbred Pony of the Year yesterday with Elliee Stunt. Their dam, Fairfax C, is a former Royal International Supreme Horse winner.
Elliee, who also produces Castra, said: “I’m really pleased and very excited. She [Castra] is so educated and loves an atmosphere; she really shows herself off in there.”
Castra is Elliee’s first pony through to the Supreme Products Supreme Pony of the Year Championship at HOYS.
The Non-native Coloured Horse winner stood Reserve. It’s been a very good week for Jayne Ross and KBF Lucia who already has the Mears Flooring Ladies Side Saddle Horse of the Year under her belt.
“She’s so versatile having done the ladies and now astride today”, said Jayne, “she’s just been fabulous.
“She’s going to have to take one more breath for the Supreme this evening!”
Janay Atherden and her mother Lisha Leeman’s supercob Red Rock III scooped the Native/Cob/Traditional Horse class and the Pony section went to Philippa Kirby’s Monivea Black Magic.