Bumper entries get SEIB Search for a Star and Racehorse to Riding Horse 2023 off to a flying start!

Bumper entries get SEIB Search for a Star and Racehorse to Riding Horse 2023 off to a flying start!

A damp and misty start to the day at Vale View Equestrian on the 23rd April did not deter the enthusiasm and excitement of the record number of competitors. Entries across the Horse of the Year Show qualifying classes on offer at the first Search for a Star and Racehorse to Riding Horse competition of the season were top quality.

Livestock transporter, and “TikTok queen”, Rebecca Giles won the working pony class of 18 entries with her grey Connemara gelding, Lochan Beag Rogaire. Rebecca said: “We came along today but I didn’t think we had a chance! I’ve always wanted to go to HOYS and now Finnbar as we call him has made this dream come true. Finnbar came from Ireland as a three-year-old for me to sell on and he is still here 8 years later. He is a full Connemara by I Love You Melody, we also have evented to BE Novice level and he came 5th in the working hunters at Royal Windsor last year.” Rebecca works for her family business St Mary’s Livestock Transport Limited. She added: “I have a good following on TikTok from my lorry driving exploits. There won’t be much celebrating for me after this as I’ll be back on the road at 4.30 tomorrow morning.”

Another pair of Search for a Star first timers won the working horse class at Vale View. Libby Taylor and her buckskin and white gelding Geronimo took their HOYS ticket in the very competitive class. Libby said: “He is only five and this is our first stay away show! We came as we thought Search for a Star would be a good experience and to get some feedback from the judges. I’ve owned him for 2 years, he came from Dorset originally to a local lady, I was asked to break him in and he never went back! We did some local showing last year in riding horse and colored classes. I work as a waitress in a restaurant and they will be hearing all about this win tomorrow!”

A huge hunter class at Vale View was judged by Richard Ramsay (conformation) and Nicola Taylor (ride). SEIB brand ambassador, Alex Osborn shadowed Richard in assessing conformation. He said: “It was fascinating shadowing Richard, I have learned so much from the experience.” Hayley Came-Boyce and her own, Killyclog ran out the winners. Hayley said: “HOYS has always been a dream and he has done it for me! This was our first Search for a Star qualifier and we came hopeful that we would do well but ultimately we were expecting some helpful feedback to work on before coming back for another qualifier later in the season. He is a young horse and jumps beautifully, we have done some novice workers and evented and showjumped. In the future we will aim at open working hunters.”

Paisley Newlands and her dark bay mare, Whisperwood Overdraft took second place in the hunters. This mare is sixteen-years-old and Paisley has owned her for just under a year. She exclaimed: “I am the happiest person in the world ever right now! I’m so lucky to have this fabulous horse! When I bought her, she’d had a year off for injury and had never done showing before. I work as a paramedic and before I had Whisperwood Overdraft I had a youngster and was struggling for time to make progress with him. We will get out doing plenty of fun things over the summer, including cross country and fun rides. We qualified in Search for a Star last year, but her passport wasn’t right so we had to come back this year. I am so delighted we have made it now!”

The riding horse hack qualifier saw 18 horses come forward for judging. Senior Search for a Star judge, Richard Ramsay said: “Our winner was very flashy, very much a show horse and gave Sam (ride judge, Samantha DeCaprio) a beautiful ride.” The winner was Helen Forster and Greannanstown Jackpot. Helen said: “I am so shocked we won! I lost my intermediate working hunter last Christmas. Around the same time, I’d noticed Jack for sale.  My other half said to go and see him, he ended up being a Valentine’s day present – way, way better than the year I got a hoover! Jack is a five-year-old, he’d done one show before I bought him and a few dressage and jumping outings. I thought we would be coming to Search for a Star this year for an outing with the idea of giving it a serious go next year.” Helen did Search for a Star back in 2012 and qualified for HOYS in the Riding Club Show Horse class. She added: “I came last! Hopefully this year will go better.”

Brooke Molyneux and her own, Dowhills Brun Force took runner-up spot in the riding horse hacks. Brooke said: “We came to Search for a Star last year in the hack section. The judge, Richard Ramsay said to come back in the riding horse section, so we did and now here we are! I did my A Levels last year so we didn’t get out very much but in our novice year in 2021 we came 2nd in STARS.” Brooke was just 14 when Dowhills Brun Force arrived with her in 2019. She continued: “I’ve done everything with her, we bought her unbacked. I work for a big insurance company, and have been saving hard so I am now her official owner! We already had a pony from the Dowhills stud and happened to see Brun Force on Facebook so we went to see her and she came home with us the next day.”

The cob class at Vale View was another split class. With 24 top class entries, it was tricky work for judges, Nicola Taylor and Sam DeCaprio. The eventual winner was Lauren Bull riding her maxi-cob grey gelding, Grane Valley Mr Bedford, known as Hector at home. Lauren said: “I am always doubting myself, I broke him in myself, we know each other inside out and he takes me round. I just need to concentrate on sitting up and owning it! I have always wanted a maxi-cob and bought him as a foal. Hector is Percheron cross Gelderlander. We did a little bit of showing in 2022 and will really get out now and have fun. Its really busy as I have five horses at home and combine them with working as a tree surgeon.”

Former three-time British Ladies Rally Champion, Rachael Dilworth and her bay Irish Draught gelding, Contender took runner up spot in the cob class. A delighted Rachael said: “We said we would give Search for a Star a go, its been 20 years since I was in the show ring when I did working hunter ponies as a child. Contender is so comfy and gave the judge a lovely ride today, he got better as the class went along. I bought him unseen as an unbroken three-year-old from Reid Finlay in Ireland during lockdown. We’ve done plenty of hacking and fun rides. I used to co-drive with my sister Stephanie Simmonite for Ford in the off-road rallies. We were also French Ladies Champions in 2002. This win is a bit different to the rally driving!”

The SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse qualifier was as competitive as ever. The class at Vale View was divided, with the top 10 coming back in for final judging. Following a hugely successful 2022 season in the show ring, the dark bay middleweight, Rich Man Poor Man, ridden by Kirstine Douglas took top spot. Rich Man Poor Man is owned by Morean Hamilton. Kirstine said: “He is the sweetest horse, he was young when he came out of training and it has taken time, we haven’t rushed him and he just gets better and better. He’s had a lovely break through the winter and enjoyed his down time, the children at the yard love him and he is so gentle with them. Rich Man Poor Man has come out looking really strong this year and has now already qualified for the Royal International and now HOYS!” Rich Man Poor Man finished in 4th place in the 2022 SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse HOYS championship having earlier in the season won the middleweight hunter title at the Great Yorkshire Show.

Hannah Chisman was making the best of her time off owing to injury in asking Lizzie Harris to ride her long-term campaigner, First Fandango and the pair were delighted with his second place in the qualifier. Hannah said: “I’ve ruptured my tendon on my kneecap so I will be taking it easy for the summer and just do what I can. I’ve known Lizzie for 18 years and am delighted they have done so well.” Lizzie continued: “Hannah is two hours down the road so I’ve only ridden him twice before today, we also took 2nd at Addington yesterday!” This is the third time First Fandango has qualified for HOYS in the SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse championship, Hannah and First Fandango took 8th place in the 2022 championship.

Over 20 traditional cobs came forward for the SEIB search for a Star traditional cob qualifier. The class was divided into two sections and the eventual winner was Kelly Driver with her piebald gelding, Billy Wilson. Kelly has a variety of horses at home – Billy Wilson, an ex-racehorse and a showjumper. She explained: “I took my ex-racehorse to the Racehorse to Riding Horse qualifier last year before deciding to come and have a go in the Search for a Star traditional qualifier today. Winky as Billy Wilson is known at home has done nothing for the past three years. He has several stories to his name, he was bred by my late uncle, Billy Wilson and even went to his funeral. Winky had pneumonia as a foal and was very lucky to survive, we nursed him ourselves. We showed him a few years ago in coloured classes, but never in the traditionals until now.” Kelly’s horses are a hobby and she combines this with running her business, Event and Park Services Ltd which runs reindeer displays and donkey rides. Breeding reindeer is a key part of the business.

Chelsie Marriott and her mother, Tracy South’s piebald gelding, Ace of Diamonds took runner up spot in the traditional. A thrilled Chelsie said: “This is the first time we’ve done Search for a Star. We’ve been showing locally for the past three years and qualified STARS in 2022 which has given us the confidence to go on. It is my dream to get to HOYS and we’ve owned Ace since he was five and a half months old so he’s home broken and produced.”

SEIB Insurance Brokers’ Marketing Manager and Search for a Star organizer, Nicolina MacKenzie said: “We are simply delighted with the way today has gone. We’ve had more entries than ever before and the day has run brilliantly. I’ve been looking forward to the new in-hand heavy horse class and it was so pleasing to see not only the number of entries we had in the class but the range of breeds. And to hear that our winner wasn’t sure about coming as she and her horse weren’t good enough, this is what Search for a Star is about – helping people learn, encourage them and help them believe that they can do it. The overall feedback we have from the in-hand classes is that they are giving competitors the confidence to get out to a show and after a few goes they can step up to the ridden classes.”

Leading equine Insurance brokers, SEIB Insurance Brokers set up Search for a Star nearly 30 years ago so they could offer a unique competition opportunity to many of their amateur rider customers. SEIB has a long association with the showing world and is renowned for ‘putting something back’ by supporting many equestrian events and activities in addition to Search for a Star. 

In the meantime – if you need to insure your horse, horsebox, trailer, yard or business – SEIB are here to help so please give us a call on 01708 850000 or visit www.seib.co.uk. #SEIBhere2help.

For all Search for a Star and Racehorse to Riding Horse information and to enter, please see www.seib.co.uk/competitions.

Results SEIB Search for a Star and Racehorse to Riding Horse Vale View Equestrian 23rd April 2023

HOYS Qualifying classes:

Class 1A Working Pony – Lochan Beag Rogaire owned and ridden by Rebecca Giles from Leicestershire

Class 1B Working Horse – Geronimo, owned and ridden by Libby Taylor from Kent

Class 2 Show Hunter – 1st, Killycloghan owned and ridden by Hayley Came-Boyce from Cheshire

Class 2 Show Hunter – 2nd Whisperwood Overdraft, owned and ridden by Paisley Newlands from Staffordshire

Class 3 Riding Horse Hack – 1st Greannanstown Jackpot, owned and ridden by Helen Forster from Warwickshire

Class 3 Riding Horse Hack – 2nd Dowhills Brun Force, owned and ridden by Brooke Molyneaux from Lancashire

Class 4 Show and Maxi Cob – 1st Grane Valley Mr Bedford, owned and ridden by Lauren Bull from Lancashire

Class 4 Show and Maxi Cob – 2nd Contender, owned and ridden by Rachael Dilworth from West Yorkshire

Class 5 Racehorse to Riding Horse – 1st Rich Man Poor Man, owned by Morean Hamilton and ridden by Kirstine Douglas from Dumfries and Galloway

Class 5 Racehorse to Riding Horse – 2nd First Fandango, owned by Hannah Chisman and ridden by Lizzie Harris from Leicestershire

Class 6 Traditional Gypsy Cob all colours – 1st Billy Wilson, owned and ridden by Kelly Driver from West Midlands

Class 6 Traditional Gypsy Cob all colours – 2nd Ace of Diamonds, owned by Tracey South and ridden by Chelsie Marriott from Derbyshire


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