Robert Oliver needs little in the way of introduction with his five HOYS Supreme Champion titles under his belt, as well as being 12 times Cob Champion, 6 times Hack Champion, 9 times Hunter Champion, 2 times Riding Horse Champion and 5 x Small Show Hunter Champion! With a career that spans over 50 years, there is very little about showing that this man doesn’t know……
“My first memory of Horse of the Year Show was in 1970, when I was reported as ‘a young lad from Wales’ who won the Small Hunter of the Year on Lord Sorcerer. This was my first visit to HOYS and was the start of 50 years competing there. During this period I had numerous wins and champion titles and amongst them all was the incredible horse, Super Ted; the heavyweight cob who won six championships, including a supreme title in 1990.”
However, it wasn’t all work and no play for Robert who has many a story to tell about his time behind the scenes at HOYS;
“Many an evening during the show I was retrieved from the ‘Dog Club’ where I was a member, run by the late chief steward Dennis Coulton. Due to the Club’s kind hospitality I was often worse for wear, and had to be taken back to my lorry to sleep it off.”
When you fall off in the ring and you want the ground to swallow you up, it is reassuring to hear that it happens to the best of us; “One embarrassing incident that did happen to me was during the final judging of the Middle Weight Hunter class, Assagart Dream set to and deposited me in front of the Royal Box breaking two ribs, and subsequently I did not ride for the rest of the show! Another incident was during the judging of the Cob class. I left my Cob in line, with my back turned only for it to walk away to the exit, and was about to be let out of the gate by the late great showman, Roy Trigg. My owners at the time gave me a quite a telling off afterwards!”
Reflecting on his time at HOYS, Robert continues; “I have been lucky in my time at HOYS to have seen some of the great names of showing, and the standard of horse and riders have been amazing. I am also very proud and honoured to have been invited once again to judge the SEIB Search for a Star, this will be my 21st year of judging it.” (pictured left is Robert & Claire Oliver with Marjorie Ramsay).
Robert’s wife Claire has been an integral part of Robert’s success and as a keen event rider herself, she recalls her early memories of HOYS; “It was 1985 and I was invited to the parade of champions at Horse of the Year Show following my individual and team gold medal wins at the Young Riders European Championships that year in France. I felt so proud to be a part of this special show and I have enjoyed it ever since.”