Last year's Prince Philip Cup winners, Oakley Hunt (West) branch of the Pony Club, are returning to HOYS this year to try to claim their 9th title. You can follow the highs and lows with daily updates on HorseandHound.co.uk throughout the show. Let's meet the team...

Last year’s Prince Philip Cup (PPC) winners, Oakley Hunt (West), are returning to Birmingham this year to defend their title. Having won this highly competitive and prestigious title 8 times to date, this is the 22nd time the club has qualified for HOYS.

Last year’s team members Floss Bish-Jones, Sammi Garrett, Sally Kitchiner and Amie Eales are joined by Philly Stacey and Joe Stockdale (eldest son of elite showjumper Tim Stockdale). Former team trainer for the past 18 years, Maureen Thomas, retired after last year’s success, so the club has a new trainer for 2013, Angie Gates.

Horse & Hound coverTeam trainer: Angie Gates

Angie was part of the winning Oakley Hunt (West) PPC team at HOYS in 1980 and graced the cover of Horse & Hound (right) in 1981 with her pony Sovereign. Angie has been involved in the sport as a parent for more than 9 years, with two of Angie’s sons, Christopher and Harry, representing the club in PPC competitions. Harry was a member of the winning team in 2011 and 2012. Angie is also aunt to Sally and Thomas Kitchiner, who were both on the winning team in 2011 and 2012, so she is full of experience from all angles.

Floss Bish-Jones, 15

Floss made her HOYS debut in last year’s winning team, but this year will be her last chance to compete in PPC due to the upper age limit being 15. She describes last year’s win as “a dream come true”. Floss is riding Angie Gates’ palomino mare Livvy. It will be Livvy’s 3rd year at HOYS — she was part of the 2011 and 2012 winning teams so is going for a hat-trick. Livvy is a brilliant escapologist so her stable door needs to be very carefully secured, otherwise she will let herself out!

Floss Bich-Jones riding Livvy

Floss is at St Mary’s Ascot boarding school and is currently preparing for her GCSE mock exams while counting down the days to HOYS. She represents the school in rounders and hockey. Floss has also represented Oakley Hunt (West) at area level showjumping, prix caprilli and tetrathlon.

“The build up to HOYS is so exciting,” says Floss, “especially when all the team kit starts to arrive. There are matching team tracksuits, T-shirts and hoodies and the ponies have matching rugs, numnahs and browbands.

“HOYS is the best week, but I hope I don’t end up being the back end of a cow this year!”

Sammi Garret, 14

Sammi has been part of the Oakley PPC team for more than 8 years and this will be her 3rd time at HOYS. A member of last year’s winning team, Sammi will be riding the “pocket rocket” Lucy Locket again this year. Lucy Locket is the smallest pony in the team at just 12.1hh, but she is extremely quick. Lucy Locket has been to HOYS 4 times and loves the lap of honour. “She trots until the music starts, then breaks into canter, which sometimes turns into a gallop,” explains Sammi, who says her purple HOYS Champion’s rug is her most treasured possession.

Sammi Garret riding Lucy Lockett

Sammi is in Year 10 at Princess Helena College in Hertfordshire. Sammi has been fitting in practising for HOYS around GCSE field trips and doing her Duke of Edinburgh bronze award. She also loves playing sport, especially lacrosse, netball and rounders. A GSCE photogrpahy student, Sammi took photos at Pony Club Camp this year to help raise funds towards the team’s kit.

Sally Kitchiner, 13

Sally has been competing in Pony Club mounted games since she was 4 years old and was part of winning team with Nipper in 2011 and 2012. Nipper is a HOYS veteran, having competed at the show an incredible 10 times. While having ridden some amazing ponies, Sally thinks Nipper has to be one of the best because of his cheeky personality and the wonderful bond they have together. Sally says: “I couldn’t wish for a better partner than Nipper.”

Sally Kitchiner with Nipper

When Sally is not riding she enjoys sport, particularly athletics. Sally’s other love is music — she writes and sings her own songs. She attends her local upper school, Harlington, in Bedfordshire.

Amie Eales, 14

Amie’s love of mounted games started from a very young age. Last year she was the non-riding reserve at HOYS which meant she had to dress up as a worm in a sleeping bag and be pushed along in a wheelbarrow! This year she is fulfilling her ambition to ride at HOYS.  Amie will be riding a 13.3hh bay mare called Magic. Amie says: “Magic whinnies when she hears me coming and we love going on long hacks together.”

Amie Eales riding Magic

Amie attends her local village school, Wootton Upper in Bedfordshire. When she isn’t riding, she enjoys walking her dogs and listening to music — her favourites are One Direction, Lawson and Union J.

Philly Stacey, 15

Philly is a newcomer to Prince Philip Cup having become the 5th member of the team earlier this season. She qualified for HOYS at the zone finals in July after competing in the sport for just 5 weeks. She will be riding Alison Kitchiner’s Flicker, who was on last year’s winning team with Thomas Kitchiner. This will be Flicka’s 5th time at HOYS.

Philly Stacey riding Flicker

Philly’s other equestrian love is showjumping and her past successes include 2nd Pony Club open Dengie final in 2012, 4th individual intermediate showjumping at the 2012 Pony Club Championships and the Hickstead junior schools team title in 2011. A music scholar at Stowe boarding school, Philly also loves sport. She has recently been selected for the U17s Southern Region Lacrosse team and has competed at county level hockey for Bucks and Northants.

Joseph (Joe) Stockdale, 14

The elder son of showjumper Tim Stockdale, Joe has been recalled into the Oakley Hunt West PPC team this year after spending the past 5 years concentrating on other equestrian sports. Having been somewhat out of practice, Joe admits he tries not to get on a pony at speed these days and is hoping not to do himself a mischief while vaulting on!

Joe Stockdale

Joe has represented the Oakley Hunt (West) in tetrathlon and showjumping, which is clearly in his blood. He has had a good season showjumping this year, winning several opens, and is planning to pinch some of his Dad’s rides in the not too distant future. Joe’s other love is cricket, which he plays for Northants.

Stay in touch with Oakley Hunt (West) branch of the Pony Club’s highs and lows during HOYS with the team’s daily diary on HorseandHound.co.uk