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HOYS is unique — a test of endurance, perseverance and a roller coaster of emotions. It’s an unnatural environment, and adrenalin carries you through when you have to be practically nocturnal.

There were some surprise winners and some dramas. We saw first-time combinations winning and the form book thrown out of the window. The small hunter Carnsdale Dreamcatcher had been owned only a month, and the heavyweight hunter Rockefeller had been in the Walker yard for just a week.

Everyone has their share of highs and lows. My team certainly experienced disappointment and joy all in one show. I was proud to have found the lightweight cob and ladies’ winner — Chaplin and Hello Dolly — it is satisfying when they go on to greatness.

I think HOYS needs to alter the entry system. At the moment the gate opening times, vet checks and rigmarole of queuing for passes and bridle numbers doesn’t tally with the exercise times. But before anyone asks why I don’t stable on-site — not everyone wants to stable their animals on a car park!

I did feel for Katy Carter, who arrived one day with nine ponies and was given an exercise slot of 5am until 5.20am. To say that was a stretch is an understatement. Still, success followed as Poppy Carter won in her final year aboard the phenomenal show pony Rotherwood Rainmaker.

The heavyweight cob section was a case of out with the old and in with the new. Previous dominator Starry Night bowed out in retirement as a maxi, and a new face — in the shape of Randalstown Musketeer — took his place. That’s some feat for a first-season novice.

Congratulations to Vicky Hesford on clinching the cob and hack titles. It seemed a family affair as brother-in-law Robert Walker also took two championships. Another family team was the Hoods, with Allister claiming the coloured championship, his son Oliver winning the lightweight cobs, Sofia Scott — who stables her horses with them — taking the racehorse to riding horse and cousin Myles Cooper heading the part-breds.

Manners are everything

Aunty Iris being dismissed in the ladies’ side-saddle class must have been heartbreaking for all connections. I can see both sides. A ladies’ horse should have impeccable manners, yet there have been times at HOYS when far worse behaviour has been accepted in classes where manners should be equally adhered to.

They say lightning doesn’t strike twice, but Broadshard Simplicity disproved this theory. Congratulations to Jayne Ross and the Wallaces for taking supreme honours two years on the trot. It seems as though this horse saves himself for this show.

Remember, if you came away from HOYS disappointed it is only two people’s opinions and one show. You have to take your season as a whole and always look forward to the next.

Ref: Horse & Hound; 15 October 2015