Horse of the Year Show is Horse of the Year Show and there is nothing to beat it. Winning the supreme on Our Cashel Blue was amazing. It’s so touching because everyone knows Blue; he’s so popular. Wherever we go, everyone says “Hi Blue” and “Well done Blue”, he has this appeal.

In the preliminary judging for the supreme it was very hard to call — I don’t think you can ever predict a supreme. You sometimes get one or two that half mess up or are not quite settled, but on Sunday every horse gave its best. It was a very, very good supreme. Everyone had made a big effort, worked out what they were doing and did a little bit of something different — and that’s what it’s all about.

The atmosphere when you went into the main arena was unbelievable. Every horse that came in got a clap and cheer. I’ve never had that before. We set sail and Blue was just automatic, and when the result was announced… well, what a feeling. What a horse. He loves the crowd and in the lap of honour when the whole stadium was cheering, and he was like, “Oh yes, it’s all for me.” He gave me the most lovely ride round with everyone clapping and the spotlight on him. It was such a thrill.

Credit where it was due

But actually, the biggest accolade of the week for me was that everyone on Team Hood — we took 14 horses in total — performed to the best of their ability and all acquitted themselves really well on the day.

Nothing let itself down, they all went beautifully, and with different judges on a different day there might have been a different result. One class I was pleased with was the working hunters because the winner, Dartans Barrack, jumped the most fabulous round and I’m glad it was rewarded.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very nice horse, but sometimes you can have something that’s jumped a scratchy round, then gives an amazing ride and gets a good conformation score and that outweighs the style mark. But this year it was the right result and that was marvellous.

There weren’t really any major upsets or surprises. There were a couple of small controversies, but otherwise all were worthy winners.

It was good to see the standard of the coloured classes; it’s really risen over the past few years. You used to get one or two nice ones, but all of a sudden you’ve got a ringfull of really nice ones; they’re now classes that need thorough judging.

Guards and flowerpots

HOYS is still the one everyone wants to win. What I really liked was having the guards in their smart uniforms standing by the flowerpots during the prize-giving, even in the TopSpec Arena.

It makes it a little more special and gives that added extra to photographs and was a lovely touch.

Ref Horse & Hound; 13 October 2016