Champions defend their titles on day four of Horse of the Year Show
The weekend at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) kicked off with The Leeman Family Maxi Cob of the Year Championship on Saturday morning. The 2019 Champion Lord Alexander was not ready to give up his crown and pulled off another show-stopping performance with Stephen Norris to retain the title, in what judge John Poole described as “a very strong class”.
The 12-year-old Irish Draught is owned by Elizabeth and David Bury. A delighted David was watching from the ringside and said: “He’s got that bit of buzz about him on the day which, when it comes out, is thrilling to see.”
Stephen has ridden ‘Alex’ to numerous wins this season and felt he was “much more grown up” in the ring today compared to in 2019, giving an “absolutely on top” performance. John’s thoughts on the winner were that he “had real self carriage… [has] got the personality and [was] very correct.” Tina Billingsley’s nine-year-old grey gelding, The Grey Goose, stood Reserve.
Harry Moore has had his sights set on winning an Intermediate class at HOYS for many years and today was his day. Riding Lauren Mollard’s nine-year-old chestnut gelding, Be Smart, Harry scooped the Rotherwood Stud Intermediate Show Hunter of the Year Championship on just their third time out together.
Be Smart is based with Edward Young who rode him to second place in the Hamilton Tarmac Small Show Hunter of the Year on Thursday, so it’s been a good week for the team. Harry said: “He’s like a Ferrari; you put your leg on and he just ups and goes. If I could have a hunt horse it would be him.”
A HOYS Champion made it a double after landing the Oyster Wealth Planning Intermediate Show Riding Type of the Year Championship less than 48 hours after winning the Topham Barnes Hack of the Year Championship. Forgeland Hyde Park (Will) was bought by Guy Mears last year and is now produced by Danielle Heath. He was ridden in the ring today by Isabella Mears who has only been riding him in Intermediates for two months; and today was only her second time in the ring with him! More excitingly, this was Isabella’s first HOYS win after 10 years of competing here.
She said: “To finally do it [win at HOYS] on a horse like him is very special. He’s so easy and just loves his job.” Danielle, who was watching ringside, added: “I felt every stride for her [Isabella]… I feel as though he’s in his prime now, having watched him over the years.” Forgeland Hyde Park last stood Champion of this class in 2018 with his previous owner Miranda Wallace.
The 2017 winner, Parkgate Royal Visit William, stood Reserve ridden by Zara Brookes, as the Championship played out in the same way as the Topham Barnes Hack of the Year on Thursday with these two showing stars battling it out for the ultimate honours.
The reigning Simon Constable Equine Vets and Mr & Mrs Roberts Ridden Purebred Arab of the Year Champion held on to his title for the second year running. Eight-year-old Rafeekah is owned by Kerry Bates and ridden by daughter Kimberley. The family acquired him as an unbroken four-year-old and he is completely home produced.
“He’s one in a million and I’m so proud of him,” said Kimberley who didn’t feel any pressure coming back after 2019 with no expectations. “He’s very much more established this year; his trot has got bigger and bigger.”
The Price Family Mini Show Pony of the Year Champion was the winner of The Price Family Lead Rein Pony of the Year, Barkway Take That (Robbie) owned by Anna Dewey, ridden by daughter Anya and produced and shown in the ring by Sharn Linney. Robbie is a seven-year-old bay gelding by the prolific sire Beckside Little Toff and bred by the Barkway Stud; one of seven Barkway ponies in this Championship today.
Six-year-old Anya has had a very busy show. She was sixth in The Price Family First Ridden Pony of the Year with Seamoor Lady Derby, which started just minutes after her Lead Rein class, and fourth on Wednesday with Kerridene Night Fury in the Colne Mountain & Moorland Lead Rein Pony of the Year. “I really love Robbie,” said Anya.
After the Championship, mum Anna said: “My husband is streaming with tears; this means the world to us. Anya is so dedicated to her ponies. She rides five of them a day and always has a smile on her face no matter how the class goes.”
Outside of her success in the show ring Anya’s biggest passion is show jumping and she currently competes at 90cm on her 128cm pony. Taking nothing away from her showing, Anya would love to ride in the 128cm Championship at HOYS one day.
The lead rein ponies dominated in the Championship as the second placed stood overall Reserve, Lucy Richardson’s 10-year-old Chestnut mare Cosford Glamorize ridden by Penny Richardson. Lucy also had a winner in The Price Family First Ridden Pony of the Year, Barrdene Romeo ridden by Lilly Richardson. A good day for the Richardson family.
A very busy day in the TopSpec Arena concluded with The Gribbin Family Lead Rein Pony of Hunter Type of the Year Championship. Tracey Brady’s Welsh Section B, Priestwood Roc Star, ridden in the ring by Grayson Brady Brooke and led by producer Sarah Newbould. The trio gave a faultless performance negotiating the rural obstacles set up in the ring to prove the ponies’ suitability for activities on the lead rein, as well as a rein back.
The 13-year-old pony has only been with Sarah for a short time and this is his first HOYS win despite numerous tickets over the years. She said: “He’s a proper child’s pony and a quick learner… he enjoys a crowd and knows his job.”
Abigail Konechny’s Welsh Section B Annandale Flanders stood Reserve ridden by Mila Konechny.