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

Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) must be the only place where you are woken at 4.30am by horses walking around a car park waiting to go to the arena for a warm up.

That was our alarm call this morning. It was still dark, but the team didn’t mind because today is the first day of competition for the Virbac 3D Worming Cup.

There are 2 mounted games competitions held at HOYS. The Virbac 3D Worming Cup, which runs during Wednesday/Thursday afternoon, and the Prince Philip Cup, which begins on Thursday afternoon and has it’s final on Sunday evening.

The mounted games teams in the collecting ring

Our early morning practise session gave the teams just 2 chances to practise each of the new games, which are in this afternoon’s competition. It was hard because the inflatable cup kept falling of the HOYS pyramid and the sharp shooters race had changed from a target to knock over to a net, which requires a different type of throwing to be learnt.

Once back at the stables, the parents cleaned ponies and tack, while the children went back to bed for a few hours sleep. Then they had the chance to meet the King’s Troop, who are performing during the show, before a quick warm up ahead for our 1st session.

The adrenalin kicks in as soon as you go into the Andrew Bowen International Arena and it’s time to focus on each race. The 1st round could have been better, but we finished 3rd and hope to improve on that tonight ahead of the cumulative results tomorrow afternoon.

Oakley Hunt (WEst) PPC in the arena

We also had our first official tack and turnout inspection this afternoon. It required a speedy return to the stables to make sure the ponies, their tack and stables were immaculate. Our ‘worm’ Joseph went for the fitting for his outfit and thinks he will be able to run fast. Fingers crossed he is right!