While we may be sad about saying goodbye to the prestigious Horse of the Year Show for another year, we can now celebrate the many achievements of the riders, owners and breeders of our region – and they truly are impressive!
Kicking off the flurry of excitement for East Anglia saw a win for Suffolk showjumper Chloe Winchester. Chloe Winchester described her opening day win at Horse of the Year Show as “what dreams are made of.” Chloe triumphed in the Talent Seekers, incorporating the seven-year-old, Championship, with Louise Saywell riding Mac Uwe finishing in second place on the leading seven-year-old.
Chloe’s jump-off time of 37.11 seconds, on the 10-year-old bay mare Sportsfield Our Clare, proved more than a second quicker than Louise, while third place went to Bumble Thomas on Aramis. “I am absolutely over the moon,” Chloe said. “There was a bit of pressure in terms of going first, so I did as much as I could, and it worked out today. She has been very competitive throughout the summer, and I know if I push her, she will do whatever she can to jump clear. It is just amazing to win here – it’s what dreams are made of. It is such an amazing experience.”
From showjumping and onto showing, and success for another Suffolk based team! The Price family’s superstar pony – and reigning Supreme Pony of the Year – Litton Enterprise made a stylish comeback to the TopSpec Arena on the first day of Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) with a win in the Equissage Pulse Ridden Partbred Pony of the Year Championship.
Ridden by Phoebe Price, and owned by Joanne and Darren Price, the 11-year-old British Riding Pony was making his debut appearance in this Partbred class, with previous wins and placings in the Kathleen Wood Children’s Riding Pony of the Year. Phoebe said: “It’s amazing, I’m in shock! We just came to enjoy it this year so anything would have been a bonus – let alone this win!” Litton Enterprise is produced by Julie Templeton who was: “Really pleased with their individual show.”
From ponies to Percherons, and a win for David Curtis’ 10-year-old Percheron gelding, Hales Hector, who rounded off his first year as a ridden horse with utter style by claiming The Barber Family British Ridden Heavy Horse of the Year Championship. Ridden to success by Household Cavalry Corporal of Horse, Jamie Bradbury, the horse known as Tim at home has previously been driven in pairs and tandems by his owner David, and was only broken to ride at the beginning of January this year.
“It means the world,” said Jamie, who has ridden him from the start. “He’s very quick to learn and the ridden showing has given him another string to his bow.” HOYS was only their second indoor outing, having competed at Suffolk, Norfolk, Equifest and a few smaller shows during the year, but this did not deter them. Ride judge John Conifey said the horse “rode absolutely beautifully”. Jamie, a HOYS first timer himself, said: “It was great to ride in the arena – especially that last bit [the lap of honour]!” He continued: “I was a bit nervous before we went in, making sure he would get the right canter lead.”
More familiar with the exciting world of racing, there were tears of joy as Ann Leftley’s 13-year-old ex racehorse Beware Chalk Pit took the honours in the SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse of the Year Championship. ‘Pete’, as he is known at home, won more than £9,500 over his seven year racing career, trained by Jonathan Geake. He ran his last race just two years ago.
The impressive 16.2hh bay gelding is produced by Justine Armstrong-Small and has been ridden by Rebecca Court for the last three seasons. The combination, who travelled from Essex, are no strangers to HOYS, having also qualified and been placed in both 2015 and 2016. “I always felt he was good enough to win,” said a delighted Rebecca, “It’s a dream come true!”
HOYS was especially successful for a name well-renowned in our region – Hood! Reigning Supreme Horse of the Year and Cob of the Year Champion, Our Cashel Blue, delighted the crowds when he successfully defended The Colosso Family Cob of the Year Champion title, navigated once again by Allister Hood.
The lightweight cob, who seems to turn heads wherever he goes, has enjoyed another phenomenal season standing Champion at the Royal International, BSHA National Championships and now at HOYS. “That’s the best he’s ever gone,” said Allister after the Championship. “I felt like we were at one all morning and tonight; he was with me and I was with him.”
After another stellar performance in the Topham Barnes Riding Horse of the Year, reigning champion Diamonds are Forever III wasn’t ready to give up the Championship title. The eight-year-old Warmblood owned by Annabel Jenks took the honours after securing the Large Riding Horse section earlier in the day with Allister Hood.
Fresh from his win on Our Cashel Blue in The Colosso Family Cob of the Year Championship, Allister said: “He [Diamonds are Forever III] was wonderful in there. He never misses a beat.” By Diamond Hit, Diamonds are Forever III has been unbeaten in every class for the last two seasons, which Allister said “in this day and age, is quite phenomenal.” He continued: “He just oozes charisma… He draws you to him and then you just want to look at him.”
But that wasn’t the end of the ribbons for Diamonds are Forever III, as he stood Ripon Select Foods Supreme Horse of the Year Champion on the final night of HOYS. The ride on the unbeaten eight-year-old was given to Allister’s son Oliver for the Supreme, while Allister kept the ride on last year’s Supreme Champion, Our Cashel Blue. “I’m over the moon; he’s a superstar of a horse and we’re very lucky to have him,” said a delighted Oliver. “It’s special every time we win and this is my first Supreme, so that makes it extra special.”
Although Allister had the ride here in the Large Riding Horse, Oliver also does a lot of work back at home with the Warmblood gelding. Reflecting on the winning performance, Oliver said: “I just tried to enjoy him but there was a bit of pressure!” he smiled. “He has big paces that you can use to your strength.” Allister added: “It’s amazing. I’m thrilled for the whole team and for Olly to have had this opportunity.” It’s been a cracking week for the Hood team with both Diamonds are Forever III and Our Cashel Blue successfully defending their Champion titles from 2016.
Well done to you of East Anglia’s equestrians, and we wish you all the best for HOYS 2018!