Champions Made at The Horse of the Year Show

The Horse of the Year Show, otherwise known as HOYS is the biggest and most prestigious show for equine beauties in the country. Held first in 1949, the show is intended to be the culmination of the best of the best from all the thousands of qualifying classes throughout the UK during the year. It was the brainchild of Captain Tony Collings and his idea was to have a show for the Champions of Champions, and his ethos is still as relevant today as it was when it began. The show is always held in early October under cover, and was first  held at the Haringey Arena in London before moving to Wembley Arena in 1959, where it was held annually till 2002 when it found its current venue at The NEC in Birmingham. Together with all the championship showing classes, there are several international show jumping classes, and more recently, one evening has been dedicated to a ‘dressage to music’ competition. Any win at HOYS is deemed to be very difficult due to the incredible standards the competitors bring to the event, and is very highly prized by those winners.

This year Horse View UK  make two visits to the show, which lasts for five very full days, starting each day at about 7am and not finishing until 11pm. As there are so many classes to choose from, (there are classes from the heavy horses right down to the miniature ponies), in this article we look at four. All held on the first day, we see the ‘Ladies Side Saddle Championship’ the ‘Racehorse to Riding horse Championship’ and the very prestigious working hunter class, ‘The Cuddy Working Hunter of the Year Championship’. Finally we look at ‘The Peter Hunt Stunt Driving Horse and Pony Championship’.

The Ladies Side Saddle Horse of the Year Championship

Champion. Francoise Babington

There were 21 forward for this class.There were two judges, one for riding and the second for conformation judging. Each horse came forward to complete a short show, a presentation to the judges before being lined up.

Reserve Champion. Jayne Ross

Then the riding judge rode each horse for a short time before the horse’s saddle was removed for closer inspection by the conformation judge. The horse was presented to the judge and was then walked away from the judge and trotted back and past the judge and back into the line. The champion was the combination who gained the most marks from the two judges. Marks were awarded in three sections. The first was for how the horse and rider presented themselves in their own display, the second was for the rideability of the horse when the riding judge had their turn and finally the third mark was for the conformation and movement in hand of the horse and walk and trot. The Champion was Seabourne Silent Valley, ridden by Francoise Babington. They qualified at the New Forest Show for this championship. The horse is a ten year old gelding by Mourn Mountain and is a purebred thoroughbred. The reserve champion was seven year old mare CSF Cummer Paradise ridden by Jayne Ross and qualified at The Royal Cheshire County Show. The two judges for this class were Jeanette La Four and Helen Hillard.

SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse of the Year Championship

Champion Jo Bates

In this class there were 12 forward. The showing regime was the same as the Side Saddle class with two judges, John Chugg and Sarah Coward, the riding judge. The class has enjoyed the sponsorship of insurance broker SEIB since its inception in 2006. Again there were qualifiers from around the UK over the summer months. Horses have to be pure thoroughbreds but do not have to have raced, although all in this class had done so to a degree of success or not as may be! The purpose of the racehorse to riding horse is to give a new purpose for horses which have been in training. There a hundreds of race horses who finish their racing career every year, and luckily, there are many riders who either buy or are given racehorses to retrain and use for a different discipline, and if they are good looking enough, many are shown, of which this championship is the pinnacle. The champion this year was Grandeur, a ten year old gelding by Verglas out of Misskinta. He was ridden by Jo Bates and owned by Yvonne Jacques.

Reserve Champion. Lizzie Harris
Jo Bates on Grandeur

The reserve champion went to Lizzie Harris riding Lough Inch, a twelve year old gelding by Jimble out of Ballerina Gold. Lough Inch only finished his racing career last year, so it was quite an achievement to make the transition from a training environment to a showing one in such a short time. The winner also took the championship at the Royal Windsor Show and also at Hickstead.

Cuddy Working Hunter of the Year Championship.

Reserve Champion Working Hunter. Louise Lyons

This is one of the oldest championships of the show. It was first run in 1951. This year there were 39 forward. The class starts with each horse coming forward to jump a show jumping round. Again, throughout the competition, points are awarded at each point. The show jumping round attracts a total of 60 points out of 100. 40 of the points are for the actual jumping. All riders start with the 40 points and they lose 20 points for each fence down or refusal. A further 20 points are then awarded by judges, Tony Wareham and Lesley Webb for rider style. In other words each rider is given a score out of 20 for their riding. The clear rounds then go through to the next stage which basically follows the same format as the other two classes in this article.

Champion Heads Up
Champion. Heads up ridden by Haydon Hankey

There were 12 combinations who jumped clears and therefore proceeded to the next part. There was one particular problem fence in the course, a simple looking up-right but with a slightly raised water tray underneath.

Unceremoniously dumped!!!

The horses’ attention was taken by this tray, which clearly many disliked, and refused. In fact two of the riders were unceremoniously dumped, one actually in the tray! Further scores are allocated, 20 by the rider judge and the final 20 for conformation. Out of the twelve, the top ten were then invited back for a final championship judging later in the day. This is one of the most prestigious classes of the week and is also one of the longest and most protracted. The champion was an Irish Sport Horse bred five year old gelding; Heads Up owned and ridden by Hayden Hankey. The reserve champion was another Irish Sport horse gelding born in 2010, MJM Laszlo ridden by Louise Lyons from Northern Ireland.

The Steve Dent Stunt Harness Horse and Pony of the Year Championship

Champion Neil Wray

This class is a driving class, either with single horse or pony pulling a gig type carriage or two horses or ponies in harness pulling something a bit bigger. There were fifteen competitors forward, comprising of a pair of ponies and seven other ponies pulling their traps and

Reserve Champion Jessie Dudley Alicella

also a pair of Freisian horses and another six single harnessed horses. Most of the ponies in this championship were Welsh C types. They all come into the arena and go round where the judges Mary Ford and Justine Cowes assess and compare each before lining up the

Lap of honour time for Neil Wray

exhibitors. Each then come out of line to perform a routine to show off their driving abilities and their horses’ movement and poise. Points are awarded for the driving and the turnout and movement of each horse/horses in harness, but also for the trap/carriage/gig itself and the cleanliness and condition of the harness used. This class was truly a colourful affair with the serenity of riders in different dress taking the audience back to the early 1900’s when this was the only mode of transport for the many. Most of the gigs on show were made in the early 1900s and as a result makes them and the sport an extremely expensive one to partake in. This is the twelfth year this class has been part of HOYS.  The champion was Neil Wray driving a gig made in the 1900s, pulled by the stallion Plains Royalty. The reserve went to Aghaderg Stand and Deliver driven by Jessie Dudley Apicella, driving another gig made originally in the 1900s.

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