Competitors brave the elements at Stoneleigh for Search for a Star and Racehorse to Riding Horse

Competitors brave the elements at Stoneleigh for Search for a Star and Racehorse to Riding Horse

A wild and windy day did not deter the 200 plus competitors entered for SEIB Search for a Star and Racehorse to Riding Horse at the TSR Summer Show at Stoneleigh Park on the 15th July. Despite the testing conditions, the horses and ponies entered were a credit to their riders and owners and coped well with the high winds and heavy showers. For the first time, SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse ran an extra class purely for amateur riders to have a go at HOYS qualification in this most popular of classes.

The Horse of the Year Show qualifiers at Stoneleigh were preceded on the Friday by a Search for a Star workshop. The Search for a Star judges, and those taking part in the workshop, were undaunted by the torrential rain throughout. Regular Search for a Star judges, Richard Ramsay, Hannah Horton, Sam DiCaprio and Nicki Taylor put the horses and ponies and riders through their paces offering both riding where relevant and valuable coaching for all.

Horse of the Year Show qualifying classes

The day started off with a busy Working Pony class in which the ground had benefitted from the torrential downpour the day before meaning near perfect going for the two fences in the set show. Paige Farmer riding Antonia List’s skewbald mare, Dashd Wreckless Love benefitted from the workshop the previous day and won the class in style. Paige said: “Antonia has owned Grace as we call her since she was just 12 months old. She was graded with CHAPS and then as a two-year-old sadly was kicked in the field and broke her knee. She will be in bubblewrap between now and HOYS! Originally Grace was meant to be a hunter for Antonia but she didn’t grow big enough so I was lucky enough to start riding her at the end of last year.” Paige’s mother Alana added: “I’ve been friends with Antonia for years, we ran Ilkeston and District Riding Club together. We always liked Grace since we first saw her.” Paige continued: “We went to the Search for a Star qualifier at Vale View and she was a bit tense so we were unplaced. We did our homework and came to the workshop yesterday as well and I’ve really enjoyed it all.” Paige is 15 and is a pupil at Bluecote Beechdale school in Nottingham.

The working horses followed on and Maddison Moule riding Danielle Moule’s dun gelding, Clorogue Spotty took top spot. Judge Nicki Taylor commented on what a nice class it had been and how well produced the winner was. Maddison said: “We have had Buddy for three years and he tried so hard today. I’ve always wanted to go to HOYS and he has really given me the confidence to keep going after I came off ponies. We went to the Search for a Star qualifier at Vale View back in the spring but he didn’t jump very well but here he was just great. We bought him with the intention of doing working hunter classes. We plan to go to Equifest in a few weeks and will be practising hard ahead of HOYS.”

Senior Search for a Star judge, Richard Ramsay commented on the quality of the horses forward in the Search for a Star hunter class, he said: “All the first six in the class are quality enough horses that would be good enough to go to HOYS.” The winner of the class, Kelle King riding her own bay gelding, Midnight Flight was delighted with the way her horse went and had also attended the Search for a Star workshop on the Friday. Kelle said: “We’d had some really positive comments and I spent the evening before the class carrying out the turnout tips I was given! We brought him out last year as a four-year-old and did a bit of showing. This is now his fifth or sixth show, Manny as we call him at home came second at both the Hanbury show and at Rutland. Manny was bred by Jo Dickinson, a friend of Nicky Carpenter’s and Nicky found him for me as a two-year-old. Nicky has provided some great help and teamwork all the way through!” Kelle works as a vet technician at Towcester Equine Vets.

Helen Anderson and her own six-year-old chestnut mare, Ballyheerin Dream took second place in the hunters. Helen said: “She went really well today, its just our fourth showing show. I broke my leg badly in a riding accident a year ago and she has been lovely to get me back going on, I trust her entirely. I bought her as an unbroken three-year-old – I have two young children so I got someone else to break her in! We have also competed in British Showjumping British Novice classes and I’d like to do some HOYS working hunter qualifiers as well.” Helen was another competitor to praise the Search for a Star workshop, she added: “I did some local showing as a teenager and am a bit rusty! The workshop was great and the judges are so knowledgeable and helpful.” Helen is a dental nurse and is currently training to be a dental hygienist.

The riding horse hack winner at Stoneleigh was moved up to the top spot after giving ride judge Nicki Taylor a perfect ride. Tina Carswell was delighted with her win aboard Annabel Haggas’ bay gelding, Otterburn Kings Ginger, she said: “HOYS is just the dream! I got Elvis two years ago, he’s on loan, I’d sold my eventer and was looking for a new horse. I know his owner through hunting and when I found out he was called Elvis I knew I had to have him! He’d been living out on the moors for a while when I first got him so its taken a bit of time to really get going. We started doing some dressage and last year some friends said they were going to Equifest so we went along and came first which was amazing! My good friend Chrissie said we should do Search for a Star so we went off to Vale View and came third. Elvis has even also been on Sara Cox’s All Request Friday on radio 2!” Tina and Elvis have also qualified for the Elementary Dressage festival finals. Tina works as a Managing Director of a company, Flair Rugs in Manchester. She added: “I am away travelling a lot with work and my husband and mother-in-law are great for looking after Elvis while he lives out in a big field while I am away.”

A hack took second place in the riding horse hack class at Stoneleigh, Imogen Jones-Percival was thrilled with Carrhouse Jersey Girl. Owned by Imogen’s mother, Sally Jones-Percival, Jersey Girl is just a five-year-old. Imogen said: “I didn’t think we had a chance of qualifying here, she is quite young and we thought it would be good experience as we haven’t been to many shows although she has done well at the ones we have been to. We won the amateur hack and rising star classes at the Cheshire show and have qualified for the London Horse Show and the amateur hacks at Royal International. We have owned Jersey Girl for 18 months now, as a young horse she had a nasty accident in the lorry and the partition fell on her so it has taken a while to regain her confidence travelling. I’ve been showing since I was three-years-old and have previously done well at Palomino Society shows.” Imogen is a health and social care student.

Emma Irwin and her skewbald cob, BallyMoyle StingRay, known at home as Diesel, won the cob class at Stoneleigh. A delighted Emma said: “I wasn’t going to come today, the weather was so bad. I am thrilled that I did though! We went to the Vale View Search for a Star qualifier and he was a bit hesitant, but we have done loads of work since then. I bought him 2 and a half years ago as a six-year-old and we have done everything together. I wanted a show horse and went looking on Facebook, someone sent me a direct message and it was Diesel! We are hoping to have a summer of fun doing cross country and fun rides. I work as a Teaching Assistant and am looking forward to spending plenty of time with Diesel.”

In second place in the cobs was Louise Charles riding Ailsa Duff’s mare, Digswell Diamond. Louise said: “She hasn’t been easy to get going with but we are getting there now! Ailsa had a show cob and then had a lockdown meltdown and went looking online for another one! I liked the look of Digswell Diamond on Facebook too and we said why not. She came from Sara Ford unbroken and has been a bit challenging but is getting better and better. We started off doing a few unaffiliated shows and went champion. She’s won in-hand at Herts county and then took 2nd in the ridden class. She jumps too and we have plans for working cob classes.” Louise works as a medical secretary. 

A competitive open SEIB Racehorse to Riding class was won by Hannah Horton riding Lord and Lady Lloyd Webber’s bay gelding, Mahomes. The class was judged by Ali Tate and Louise Daly. Louise commented: “It was a super class. All the horses gave me fantastic rides. Our winner went sweetly and really travelled across the ground.” Mahomes is a homebred by Dubawi and was in training with John Gosden, for whom he ran three times. Hannah said: “This is his first proper season in the showring, he came second at Windsor after finishing fourth in the SEIB class at Vale View. He was champion at Herts County and has also qualified for Hickstead and Aintree. Mahomes is so straightforward, he loves being a show horse – he is a poser and has really found his niche!”

Tori Thomas and her own bay gelding, Wonga Swinger took runner-up spot and the second HOYS qualifying ticket at Stoneleigh. This 13-year-old bay gelding by Lucky Story was in training with Tori’s husband, former gold cup winning jockey, Sam Thomas where he won and was placed over fences.

This is the third time Wonga Swinger has qualified for HOYS in the SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse championship. The pair took 5th place in the 2022 final. Tori said: ‘Wonga Swinger never really enjoyed his racing although he was a great jumper’.

For the first time, SEIB ran an amateur only Racehorse to Riding Horse HOYS qualifier at Stoneleigh giving amateur riders the chance to compete without professional riders. The class was won by Jane Williams riding her mother, Diana Williams’ bay gelding, Hazel Hill. Diana said: “What a lovely result, and on Jane’s Birthday!” Jane said: “We bought him as a five-year-old from a point-to-point yard in Ireland and he is now fifteen. He has won so many point-to-points and even won the Foxhunters at Cheltenham in 2021. He now leads ponies and goes hunting. He’d never done showing before last year when we took him to our local show and the judge said we need to sort out a proper saddle and pull his tail. We did this and he took 2nd in the novice class at Three Counties and won the amateur RoR class and rising stars at the Hanbury Show!” Diana continued: “Jane was champion amateur jockey four or five times and her wins on Hazel Hill went a long way toward this.”

Taking the second amateur racehorse HOYS ticket at Stoneleigh was Kirstin Mellor and her grey gelding, Grey Life owned by Louise Todd. Kirstin said: “It is only our second season showing, we did some novice RoR classes last year and won at Royal Norfolk qualifying for the finals. At Aintree we came 7th so decided to really give it a go this year!” Grey Life won over fences during his racing days and was in training with Laura Morgan. Kirstin explained: “Grey is now 17 and he still lives on the farm he was pretty much born on. He was bred by a friend of Louise’s late father Thomas Todd who bought Grey as a foal and he ran in Thomas’ name until he died and then ran in Louise’s name. He went to a hunting home after he retired from racing and then came back to the farm last year. I keep my horse at the farm and happened to ask Louise what Grey would be doing, she said I was welcome to ride him a bit. I jumped at the chance! He is such a lovely easy horse to do.”

A strong class of traditional gypsy cobs came forward at Stoneleigh and the class went to the black, solid coloured, King Charmer owned by Jamie Parry and ridden by India Richmond-Pinnington. King Charmer is on loan to India who explained: “He’s only been schooling since April! I am so pleased, he went great today. Before I had him on loan he was a hacking pony – this is just his third ever show. We went to our local show and then took 6th place at Cheshire. I’ve got King Charmer on loan as my horse is out of work. My horse is a warmblood and we have been showjumping together. It is lovely to return to showing, I’ve missed it! When I was 8-years-old I did some TSR classes including the HOYS masterclass with my coloured pony.” India has just finished her A-levels and is hoping to join the navy.

Paige Cole and her own traditional cob, Mistyfying Mist took second place. Paige said: “We did the Search for a Star qualifier at Vale View and came third so to have gone one better today is just brilliant! We bought her as a young horse from Clitheroe as we felt sorry for her, she was tethered and didn’t look very happy. I broke her in and did everything with her. She had no mane and no feather when we got her. She now lives in plaits and snuggy hoods in the summer! In 2022 we did some local and county showing including Search for a Star and Cheshire County, we also came 11th at the Derbyshire Festival. I’ve always shown and have four horses at home – we seem to collect them! – I’ve also got a rescue horse and a show pony.” Paige has a degree in social work and works for social services in Blackpool.

SEIB Insurance Brokers’ Marketing Manager and Search for a Star organizer, Nicolina MacKenzie said: “Our Search for a Star team really are the ultimate professionals, from coaching at the workshop yesterday in truly torrential rain to every last piece of attention to detail today, it is what helps give competitors the confidence to listen and do their homework and then come back improved and ready to go on. Everyone this weekend has done so well between the rain and the wind and we have seen some brilliantly behaved horses and ponies that have taken it all in their stride. Thanks to the TSR team for allowing our qualifier at Stoneleigh to take place during their Summer Show. We will be looking forward to hopefully repeating the arrangement next season.”

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 #SEIBhere2help.

For all Search for a Star and Racehorse to Riding Horse information and to enter, please see

Results SEIB Search for a Star and Racehorse to Riding Horse Stoneleigh Park 15th June 2023

HOYS Qualifying classes:

Class 1A Working Pony – Dashd Wreckless Love owned by Antonia List and ridden by Paige Farmer from Nottinghamshire

Class 1B Working Horse – Clorogue Spotty owned by Danielle Moule and ridden by Maddison Moule from South Yorkshire

Class 2 Show Hunter – 1st Midnight Flight owned and ridden by Kelle King from Warwickshire

Class 2 Show Hunter – 2nd Ballyheerin Dream owned and ridden by Helen Anderson from Somerset

Class 3 Riding Horse Hack – 1st Otterburn Kings Ginger owned by Annabel Haggas and ridden by Tina Carswell from North Yorkshire

Class 3 Riding Horse Hack – 2nd Carrhouse Jersey Girl owned by Sally Jones-Percival and ridden by Imogen Jones-Percival from Lancashire

Class 4 Show and Maxi Cob – 1st Ballymoyle Stingray owned and ridden by Emma Irwin from West Midlands

Class 4 Show and Maxi Cob – 2nd Digswell Diamond owned by Ailsa Duff and ridden by Louise Charles from Hertfordshire

Class 5 Racehorse to Riding Horse – 1st Mahomes owned by Lord and Lady Lloyd-Webber and ridden by Hannah Horton from Hampshire

Class 5 Racehorse to Riding Horse – 2nd Wonga Swinger owned and ridden by Tori Thomas from Gloucestershire

Class 6 Traditional Gypsy Cob all colours – 1st King Charmer owned by Jamie Parry and ridden by India Richmond-Pinnington from Merseyside

Class 6 Traditional Gypsy Cob all colours – 2nd Mistyfying Mist owned and ridden by Paige Cole from Lancashire

Class 19 Amateur Racehorse to Riding Horse – 1st Hazel Hill owned by Diana Williams and ridden by Jane Williams from West Midlands

Class 19 Amateur Racehorse to Riding Horse – 3rdGrey Lifeowned by Louise Todd and ridden by Kirstin Mellor from Lincolnshire


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