The final SEIB Search for a Star qualifier of 2018 took place at Vale View Equestrian Centre in Leicestershire on the 5th August. Several delighted riders made the most of this last opportunity to qualify for the 2018 Search for a Star HOYS championships.
A win in the working pony class came as a complete surprise for 13-year-old Caitlin Gill from Darlington. Caitlin’s pony, San Bernadino was foot perfect on the day to land the top spot. Caitlin’s mum, Lisa Gill said: “It is unbelievable, we didn’t even think they would be placed. We bought Iris as she is known at home to compete in showjumping and working hunter pony classes. She had done nothing when we bought her around eighteen months ago and my little girl is now over the moon with her.” Caitlin attends St Frances Xavier School in Richmond, Lisa continued: “Caitlin is into her sport and the school really encourage the children to do well in everything so they will also be delighted that Caitlin is off to HOYS.”
Pony Club instructor Shane Carter won the working horse class at Vale View with her dun gelding, Grantstown Sandman who is known as Ambrose at home. Shane said: “We have had quite a weekend! Ambrose and I left East Sussex first thing on Friday morning to go to the dressage area festival at Wellington and from there we carried on up to Vale View for Search for a Star on Sunday. For each year I have had Ambrose we have had a different goal. In 2016 we competed in British Eventing and finished the season as South East Eventers League winners, in 2017 we aimed at British Dressage competitions and finished up by being placed at the festival and this year HOYS was our aim!” Shane and Ambrose attended the Search for a Star qualifier at Bury Farm where they just missed out on their HOYS ticket so Vale View was the last chance for them to achieve their goal of HOYS in 2018. Shane added: “Ambrose is such a good horse, he is so versatile. I have been thinking about our goal for 2019 and it definitely has to be to take part in a team chase!” Shane teaches children in the Romney Marsh and the Ashford Valley Pony Clubs.
Megan Barlow riding Charlotte Dilworth’s bay gelding, Castors Son, won the riding horse hack class. Megan has been riding Castor for the past year whilst Charlotte’s daughter Libby has been at university. Megan said: “I have wanted to go to HOYS for quite a while, but just haven’t had the horse until Castor came along. This was just our third proper show and I am delighted. We missed out on qualifying for Search for a Star at Osbaldeston in the spring and I think that Castor has improved loads since then, he is a really quick learner.” Megan is assistant manager at Naylor’s Equestrian in Nantwich, she added: “It sounds as though several of the team at work are going to come to HOYS to cheer us on! I am going to fit in as much training as possible between now and HOYS. We finish work at 6pm and then it is straight over to the horses.”
Annie McAndrew took the runner up spot in the riding horse hack class with her lovely homebred mare, Sky. Annie said: “Qualifying for HOYS has literally been my dream since I was three-years-old when I began going to shows on the lead-rein. To do it on a homebred is even more special. Sky has only been broken in for a year and this is about her fifth show. The more she has done, the more she is enjoying the experience of getting out to shows and is going better and better.” Sky is by the top showjumping stallion, Don VHP Z and Annie who is currently studying law, plans to compete her in both showjumping and working hunter classes. Annie added: “Search for a Star is a great way for the horses to get acclimatised to shows and what will be expected of them. Sky has a great jump and I think it is really important that we spend time concentrating on the way she goes on the flat as well.”
The hunter winner at Vale View, Jackie Worby, has a very compelling reason for wanting to qualify for HOYS. Her great friend Penny Podmore, who was the previous owner of her horse, Pennys Gift, wanted to see the horse compete in the working hunters at HOYS. Penny was a previous winner of the working hunters at HOYS back in her youth. Jackie said: “Following a serious stroke, Penny went on the hunt to find a horse that she could place with another rider and follow around the shows. It was to be her last horse and provide her with some entertainment. Penny watched plenty of videos of horses in Ireland and Pennys Gift was the horse she chose to buy. Very sadly, after the horse arrived, Penny was diagnosed with cancer and died. As I child I had spent a lot of time with Penny and her husband Martin and after Penny’s death I mentioned to Martin that I was on the lookout for a new horse. Martin suggested I buy PJ who arrived with me as an unnamed five-year-old. PJ and I have done plenty of eventing and then as Penny had never got to see PJ going out to shows, I decided to see if we could get to HOYS in Search for a Star for Penny. We came 3rd in the working horse class at Bury Farm and then this year we have gone better and are now qualified in the hunters.” PJ lives at home with Jackie who works as a chartered financial planner.
Taking runner up spot in the hunter class was Caroline Airey’s homebred five-year-old, Urswick Rock Solid. This horse is the third generation that Caroline has bred, she said: “I can’t believe we have gone and qualified for HOYS, it is pretty much a lifelong dream for anyone that is into horses to one day have the chance to ride there. Everyone in Urswick Rock Solid’s family has the best temperament, they all hack around the farm and go to the local shows. This result – and the really positive comments from the judges at Search for a Star – has inspired me to think about getting out to some county shows with him next year.” Caroline and her husband have a small-holding and also breed pedigree Suffolk sheep. She added: “We take the sheep that we have bred to the county shows, and it is great to be off to HOYS with a horse we have bred.” Caroline works as a postman.
The cob class winners, Kayleigh Brown and her own, Sir Podge had travelled from Newquay to Vale View to compete. Ride judge, Jane Hubbard said of this Irish grey gelding: “He was a nice stamp of a horse that was true to type and both I and the conformation judge, Richard Ramsay really liked him.” It was a last-minute plan for Kayleigh to enter Search for a Star. She said: “We went to the New Forest Show at the end of July and came 3rd in the Open HOYS cob qualifier. So we decided that Search for a Star was a must!” Kayleigh managed to combine travelling up to Vale View with attending Equifest. She continued: “I bought Sir Podge three years ago with the aim of competing him in showing, he is very versatile and also hacks and hunts through the winter. I have been away at university and just been home at weekends – my sister Jemma has been great at keeping him going in the weeks.” Kayleigh finished university this summer and starts a job as a PE teacher at Penrice School in St Austell in September, she added: “I have been thinking of ways to explain what a big deal HOYS is to horse people when I ask for the time off school to go to the show. I think I’m going with it being the world cup of showing!”
Lucy Turner took the runner up spot in the cob class with Sandra Hunter’s, Quenot 4. Lucy said: “I am shocked that we are off to HOYS, it was totally unexpected to qualify. We were pulled in bottom having not had the best go round. Quenot definitely made the marks up in his conformation and the ride he gave the judge. I have been riding him for the last year and a half and we decided to affiliate at the beginning of this year and have had a great season so far being placed at both county and local shows. It is great to have qualified as Quenot will be 15 next year and so the plan is to semi-retire him. Sandra, his owner lives in France.” Lucy works as a shop assistant in Compstall post office which is a family owned business. She added: “My mum has been telling everyone that comes into the shop that we are off to HOYS!”
Winning the ever popular SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse class at Vale View was Claire Poole with her own, Kings Grey. The class was judges by Ali Tate (conformation) and Lesley Whitehall (ride) Ali said: “Both Lesley and I liked the winner the moment he came into the ring. He had lovely clean limbs and a correct way of going and really looked through the bridle.” A very pleased Claire said: “I am delighted with him, and we are very much looking forward to HOYS. Kings Grey is such a lovely horse who initially came to me from Phil Kirby to do some retraining in 2016 and I really liked him and decided to hang on to him.” Kings Grey had his last run in June 2016 as a 12-year-old, he had a total of 46 runs and won around £60K in prize money. He was trained by Philip Kirby. Claire continued: “I have now had Kings Grey for eighteen months or so, he hasn’t been the easiest as he is huge and has been used to going in a straight line for so long, we do plenty of polework sessions and hacking out which he loves. We have done some working hunter classes and he may go on to do some lightweight hunter classes next season.” Kings Grey won the racehorse classes at the Wiltshire Spring Show and the BSHA Spring Show earlier this season. Claire works full-time retraining racehorses for second careers – whether that be in the show ring or for other jobs.
Jo Jacks took the second qualifying spot in the racehorses with Susan Church’s mare, Free Diamonds. Whilst the winner of the class measures in at over 17hh, Free Diamonds is just 15hh, Susan said: “Free Diamonds is a proper little horse and she is a true small hack. Traditionally small hacks were always pure thoroughbreds. We are thrilled that she is off to HOYS as she has very low mileage and is just really getting underway with the showing. Jo rides her for me in the racehorse classes and Helen Whitely-John is her pilot in the hack classes.” Free Diamonds ran in Spain as a racehorse and then came over to the UK where she was trained by Don Cantillon in Newmarket, but she never ran in the UK. Susan bought her straight from Don. Free Diamonds narrowly missed out on a HOYS ticket in the open small hacks this year, she took 2nd place in the small hacks at Hickstead Derby meeting and was also champion hack at Herts county earlier this season. Susan added: “Jo rides Minnie Mouse, as we call her, brilliantly and the mare is on a great upward learning curve.”
SEIB has an ongoing commitment to ethical showing, including making every effort to wipe out the use of prohibited substances and encouraging fit not fat horses into the show-ring. Baileys Horse Feeds attended the qualifier at Vale View with their equine weighbridge and a trained nutritionist to help educate competitors.
SEIB Marketing Manager Nicolina Mackenzie said: “The Search for a Star finals are now in their 20th year at HOYS and are something that a huge number of amateur showing riders aspire to. The standard of competition increases year-on-year and the true amateur spirit of the series is something we are very proud of. As ever, we had some great entries at Vale View and we are delighted to be seeing these talented amateurs and professionals going to HOYS in Search for a Star and Racehorse to Riding Horse.
Leading equine Insurance brokers, SEIB Insurance Brokers provide cover for horses, horse boxes, yards and much more. The company has a long association with the showing world and is renowned for ‘putting something back’ by supporting equestrian events and activities.
For insurance queries visit www.seib.co.uk or call 01708 850000.
Photo: Credit SMR Photos