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 of their competition with daily updates on HorseandHound.co.uk throughout the show

Tuesday morning was relatively relaxed for the Oakley Hunt (West) Prince Philip Cup team. The atmosphere was buzzing when we got into the Andrew Bowen International Arena at Horse of the Year Show to have a quick practice and rehearse the entrance through the purple curtains. This helps to get the ponies used to the lights and music.

With all our ponies coping well, and the team’s levels of excitment reaching fever point, it was back to the stables to cool down and wait for the vetting.

During the vetting, the ponies’ passports are checked to ensure their vaccinations are up to date, then trotted up and back to ensure they are sound. It is always a tense time, even though you know everything is all right. Everyone just want to be passed and get it over with!

The trainers’ briefing in the afternoon brought a flurry of conversation as some of the games we have been practicing all year were changed… Our trainer Angie Gates organised a team briefing to talked the riders through the changes and we practiced a few in the car park without ponies.

The other stables and car parks were starting to fill up as the day went on — there were scurry ponies whizzing past, as the showing ponies poked their funny hooded heads out of the long line of stables.

Finally it was time for the presentation of the coloured sweatshirts the team will ride in and our sponsor’s tracksuits. At this party all the teams do an introduction party piece in front of the other teams. It is hilarious.

Oakley Hunt (West) at the party

Our team sang their own lyrics about each of the Oakley team members and our ponies to the flipper ballet from Mamma Mia! They wore onsies because they didn’t want to perform in swim wear in October. Then it was time for some quizzes and games, which ended with teams having a set time to dress their trainer as the best worm using only loo roll! We came 4th after much deliberation…

Then it was time for an early night ahead of a 5am start for Wednesday practice.