Dreams come true in the SEIB Search For A Star Championship

Dreams come true in the SEIB Search For A Star Championship

The SEIB Search for a Star (SFAS) series gives amateur riders, and their horses and ponies, the chance to qualify for Horse of the Year Show and benefit from a thoroughly supportive network in the process. Featuring five different section classes contested across Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the show, the winners of each class were invited through to the overall championship to perform a final show in the Andrews Bowen International Arena.

Conformation judges were husband-and-wife team Chris Hunnable and Katie Jerram-Hunnable, and the ride judge was Jordan Cook. As a previous SEIB Search For A Star Champion himself, Jordan appreciates the prospects a series like Search For a Star offers.

Chris Hunnable commented on the high standard of competition on display this year: “The standard seems to be higher than ever. They match the quality you would expect to see in an open class here at Horse of the Year Show and I think that is testament to the support and guidance given throughout the SEIB Search For A Star series.”

Upon seeing the final line up of winners, dreams became reality for the SEIB Riding Horse/Hack winner, Alex Windross from North Yorkshire aboard her nine-year-old grey gelding, Herbie. A shocked Alex hesitated in disbelief before stepping forward to take the spotlight.

She said: “I couldn’t believe it was me. When they called out my name I just stood there, the standard of the other horses was so high I didn’t think I had a chance. My friend and I came to HOYS for years as spectators, but to actually qualify and ride here alongside the likes of the Whitakers is amazing.”

As a full time cardiology nurse at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, Alex has a lot to juggle. “It is hard to juggle around shift patterns with early mornings and late nights, but it has been worthwhile.”

Alex has owned Herbie since he was a four-year-old. At the time it was a choice of Herbie or a new kitchen; thank goodness Herbie won to fulfil Alex’s dream of winning at Horse of the Year Show.

Reserve champion went to the SEIB Search For A Star Working Show Horse Champion, 10-year-old skewbald gelding, An Bauachaill Ban Bai ridden by Maxine Linas from Cheshire.

Maxine has always wanted to ride at HOYS and was grinning from ear to ear aboard her dun gelding, known as Bandit. Maxine and Bandit went to a working hunter class at the Aintree show and the judge said they should have a go at Search for a Star so they did, qualified and now they are here this week, taking home the Reserve Champion title.

Other section winners from earlier in the week were as follows:

SFAS Traditional Cob

Heading up the SEIB Search For A Star Traditional Cob of the Year class was the stand out palomino and white gelding, Hermits Golden Safari ridden and owned by Kirsty Sheath from Buckinghamshire. Kirsty, a saddler by trade, has owned the eight-year-old gelding for the last two years in which time they have enjoyed hacking, jumping and of course, showing. The pair qualified for the HOYS SEIB Search for a Star finals at Bury Farm Equestrian Centre in their second attempt having followed the judges’ advice first time round.

SFAS Show Cob

The SEIB Search For A Star Show Cob of the Year class saw an incredibly high level of competition, but there can only be one winner and it was the turn of 12-year-old Skewbald gelding B Unique to step up to the podium ridden by Hannah Johnson from Gloucestershire. When asked how it feels to have won at HOYS, an emotional Hannah simply said: “I can’t believe it!” Having taken over the ride last April the pair really hit it off and have formed an incredible connection.

See Wednesday Press Release for full interview

SFAS Working Show Horse/Pony

The SEIB Search For A Star Working Show Pony winner was Langorra Ginger Port ridden and owned by Natalie Pastor from Warwickshire. The six-year-old New Forest pony qualified with Natalie at Vale View Equestrian Centre in April this year.

Natalie said: “He’s totally home-produced. We had his mum as a three-year-old and did a lot of workers and showing with her. Then when I went to university, we decided to breed from her and he is the first foal she had. He has a huge personality; even bigger than the sash he’s wearing! He thinks it’s all about him, but he is a lot of fun.”

After four months off due to injury this summer, the pony was only bought back into work four weeks ago and Natalie says it’s a miracle to be here: “I didn’t think I was going to make it here this week after the year we have had; it’s a bit of a miracle. He’s been swimming twice a week to help with his fitness, and I feel extremely lucky to have made it, let alone to win.

“Obviously, you always go in wanting to win but you can’t practice something like this at home, the atmosphere is just unmatchable. But I am pleased he kept his cool and performed well in there. The Search For A Star series has been really supportive and I’m so grateful for the opportunity.”

SFAS Hack of the Year

The SEIB Search For A Star Hack of the Year winner, Just Elusive owned and ridden by Sarah Lindsey from Leicestershire. Sarah qualified Just Elusive’s dam, Just Maybe for the Search For A Star HOYS finals 11 years ago so is delighted that Just Elusive is following in her mother’s footsteps. This is Just Elusive’s first proper showing season and she will eventually be aimed at open hack classes. The pair qualified for the HOYS SEIB Search For A Star finals at Onley Grounds Equestrian Centre.

SFAS Hunter of the Year

The Show Hunter winner in the SEIB Search For A Star series is nine-year-old bay gelding, Coultard Z owned and ridden by Sarah Moreland. A lady who is used to being on the other side of the arena fence working in her day job running Herefordshire County Show, Sarah was overcome with emotion.

“That was absolutely incredible; a dream come true! I have been coming to HOYS as a visitor since a little girl and I never thought I would be riding in the arena myself one day. My late father was a long-standing steward here at HOYS, John McInerney. He passed in 2000 so to do this today I know would make him so proud. My mum was also a gifted horse women and she sadly died whilst out riding on the road, so SEIB Insurance is such an important thing for safety. I have done this today for my mum and dad. I have my dad’s tie pin and my mum’s locket in my pocket, so they are with me today.”

Sarah has owned the well-mannered horse Coultard Z for three years and his breeders even made the trip from Scotland to Birmingham to watch him in the arena today.

Sarah continues: “He is the most wonderful horse, he does everything. The SEIB Search For A Star series has been fantastic. What an opportunity to work with showing gurus. At the training day they were so generous of their time, you could ask any question and even here today they gave a vote of encouragement. It gave me an opportunity I would just have never had otherwise; it’s just amazing.”


For more information on Horse of the Year Show 2022, please contact Horse of the Year Show Press Office, Grandstand Media Ltd. Tel: 02476 858205. Email: press@hoys.co.uk

Share this post


Don’t miss a thing. Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest on competitions, news and events.

By clicking submit below I understand that I will receive marketing communications from Grandstand Media in accordance with our privacy policy.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.