Going out on a high with a Horse of the Year Show win

Going out on a high with a Horse of the Year Show win

Starting proceedings in the showing championships on day one at Horse of the Year Show 2022, was the elegant delight of the Mears Flooring Ladies Side Saddle Horse of the Year Championship. A true spectacle to behold, the class is characterised by the traditional turn out and quintessential ambiance.
Out of the 19 exhibits, it was 14-year-old bay mare, Mexican Summer who was the judge’s choice to take the first win of the day.

Ride judge Michaela Bowling said: “She was absolutely mega to ride. I couldn’t fault her.”
Conformation judge Kathy Bowdler said: “She was the first one in the arena and I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She owned the ring and excelled under the spotlight.”

The combination has been placed in this championship several times previously, with a fourth, fifth and reserve placing in years 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively, but deservedly earned their crown with a win today.

Speaking to a delighted Georgina Wilkes about her win, she said: “She felt exceptional today, it’s as if she knew it was her final HOYS. We are retiring her this year, so she’ll be going out on a high. It will be my first time riding in the supreme and I am really excited. She has also qualified to compete here in the Intermediate Show Hunters with Sophie Beaumont and the Small Show Hunters with me, so she isn’t done yet. She has a wonderful temperament and after not having a side saddle on for two months she knew exactly what to do when we got into the arena.”

Owned by Georgina’s mother Nicola Wilkes, the family have owned Mexican Summer since a three-year-old and she is a ‘good all-rounder’ with regular trips to the beach near their home in Norfolk.

Next was the turn of the Harness Horse and Pony of the Year Championship, which was judged by Deborah Holt Atkinson and John Walker. With immaculate turn-outs in the line-up the judges had their work cut out. In the end, the champion title went to the striking black gelding, Koning driven by HOYS stalwart Malcolm Salter.

Meaning ‘King’ in Dutch, Koning was certainly ‘King’ of the arena as he commanded the attention of the audience and judges in his display. As a first-timer at HOYS, you would be forgiven for thinking he was used to the spotlight.

Speaking of their win, Malcolm said: “We have had him since he was three and he is now seven-years-old and he’s the most beautiful and kindest horse to drive; he’s an absolute star. You wouldn’t believe it is his first HOYS. We have produced him slowly as I don’t like to rush them and then we picked up our qualifier at Lincolnshire County Show earlier this year.”

As a regular HOYS competitor, Malcolm first competed at Horse of the Year Show in 1986, but this is his first ever win. He continues: “I’m 63 now so I will start to hand the reins over to my son Oliver who has a great bond with Koning. If I do decide to retire, I’m glad to go out on a high. We will be celebrating with a big party and lots of champagne once we get home tonight!”

National Pony Society/Baileys Horse Feeds Mountain & Moorland Ridden Championships
It was the first class of the day in the TopSpec Arena starting at first light this morning, but the crowds were out in full force to support the popular National Pony Society/Baileys Horse Feeds Mountain & Moorland Ridden classes. The decision in each of these M&M ridden classes fell with judges Marie-Claire Nimmo and Joanna Jack.

Being pulled forward as champion of the Dartmoor class was the stunning gelding, Salcombe Starehole Bay ridden by Katy Marriott-Payne. The pair picked up their HOYS ticket at Three Counties Show in June, having already stood supreme at Royal Windsor Horse Show in May. The win is bitter-sweet for the team with owner Felicity Thompson currently remaining in hospital.

Onto the ridden Dales class and it was five-year-old black stallion, Griseburn Major who caught the judge’s eye to take the win. Competing in their first ever HOYS, owner and rider Joseph Watson put in a stunning performance in a hugely competitive class. Joseph bought the stallion as a three-year-old from the Griseburn stud and together with his partner Rob McIvor, they have produced him. In his second season competing on the showing circuit, the pair picked up their HOYS ticket at North of England Show. Joseph says: “Things like this don’t happen to me. I was not expecting it at all. I was stood in the line-up with the final three and I kept looking at the other two trying to work out which one would be first and second – I didn’t even imagine it would be me. My heart was pounding, I still don’t think it has sunk in.”

In the Fell pony class, the win went to Willmont Braveheart much to the delight of owner Antonia who has had the pony since a foal and was overcome with emotion at the news of the win. The nine-year-old gelding has enjoyed his second year with producer Emma Burrows based in Carlisle who takes the ride on him at HOYS this week. She commented: “He’s such an easy horse. We picked up our HOYS ticket in our first qualifier at Stoneleigh Horse Show in May and we’ve just been ticking him over through the summer. I really wasn’t expecting it. We were eighth in the class last year, so I’m really pleased with how much he’s come on.”

Results for the other three sections today are as follows:
• The Connemara winner was eight-year-old grey gelding Eastlands Dunedin ridden by Lauren Beaumont and owned by Susan Pool
• The Highland winner was 12-year-old dun stallion Lochlands Gypsy Baron owned and ridden by Tracey Milward
• The New Forest winner was 11-year-old blue roan stallion, Lovelyhill Folklore ridden by Vikki Smith and owned by Penny Sutton

Today’s Ladies Side Saddle Champion will go forward to Sunday’s Supreme Products Supreme Horse and the winners of the Mountain & Moorland Ridden Sections will make their appearance in the National Pony Society Mountain & Moorland Pony of the Year Championship tomorrow evening.

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

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