No longer the bridesmaid: consistent Bellevue Tomboy lands the Sport Horse Breeding of GB Working Hunter Championship

No longer the bridesmaid: consistent Bellevue Tomboy lands the Sport Horse Breeding of GB Working Hunter Championship

Visitors to the first day of Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) were treated to a field of some of the best Workers from up and down the country in the Sport Horse Breeding of GB Working Hunter of the Year; a Championship that has been an integral part of HOYS since 1951.

Course designer, David Cole, set a testing track across the Andrews Bowen International Arena, which posed plenty of questions. 39 starters produced just five clears over an inviting yet twiddly course, resulting in a fair few four-faulters. A total of 14 combinations were invited back on their jump and style marks for the second phase of the competition; the ride and conformation judging.

After being put through their paces by judges Alycia Pritchard and Jane Hall, nine competitors had the nerve-wracking wait until the evening performance for the final results.

After a classy final go round and impressive gallop, Matthew Cooper’s own Irish Sport Horse Bellevue Tomboy (Tommy) were crowned Champions, ending a nine year campaign to secure a prestigious working hunter title here at HOYS.

“I’ve been trying to win over jumps here for quite a long time,” said a delighted Matthew, who had previously won a HOYS red rosette on a Highland here a couple of years ago.

“I bought Tommy when he was six and we started in Intermediates. He’s 15 now and we’ve come to HOYS every year and been placed most years.

“It was a tricky course today; it looked OK but when you got in there, there were a lot of questions. Tommy loves a tough course though… so when he gets in there he performs.”

For the first time this year there was a special award presented to the highest placed Irish  horse breed, which was also awarded to Bellevue Tomboy. Of the top nine in the arena this evening, only two were non-Irish breed.

So, what now for a horse that is so passionate about his work? “We will try and do it again,” said Matthew. “He qualified at the first show of the year so we thought, ‘well, we’ll keep him quiet’ [until HOYS]. He did not appreciate that. He just loves it too much!”

Reserve Champion was Hayden Hankey’s Curraghgraigue Coevers Quality. Hayden took the Championship back in 2019 on Heads Up and only bought this horse in July. The 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse qualified on his first time out with Hayden, so they took a trip out to a practice show last week and finished very impressively tonight.

Matthew and Tommy will return to the Andrews Bowen International Arena on Sunday evening for the Supreme Products Supreme Horse of the Year Championship.

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