The Mount St John Future Elite Championship at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) is now in its second year — and dressage fans are in for a treat this week.
The championship is the brainchild of HOYS and Emma Blundell, the owner of the Yorkshire-based stud Mount St John.
Emma hopes that the class will continue to attract Britain’s top riders and will come to be seen as a showcase of the nation’s future team horses.
This year the class — an inter I freestyle test — has attracted two of the best small tour horses in the country; Woodlander Farouche and Selten HW (though the latter is ridden by the Dane Anders Dahl, so possibly a future team prospect, but not a British one). Charlotte Dujardin, Emile Faurie and Spencer Wilton are also in the line-up.
The class, inaugurated last year, sees dressage returning to HOYS after a long absence.
Emma is also conscious that the class offers rare big atmosphere exposure for up-coming horses.
“We saw there was a gap in the market for an advanced class like this. HOYS is a huge party and horses have to cope with it,” Emma points out. “Many horses will have mostly only seen the inside of an arena, so it’s good for them to get used to performing in a big atmosphere, rather than riders trying to desensitize them at a final when it counts for a team medal.
“Not all riders have experienced an atmosphere like it either — though of course Charlotte knows HOYS well as her background is showing.”
As the class is a freestyle, it allows riders to sculpt a test which shows of their horse to its best; experienced horses can be shown off and riders can help out a greener one.
Prize-money is another draw. The pot is £3,000, with £2,000 to the winner. Prize-money is handed out to all eight starters.
“It’s good money; not what you’d get at a normal show,” adds Emma. “So we hope to attract those top riders — it’s not just your average test, which is what finals should be about.”
There is also a lucrative prize for the highest-placed mare; likely to be Woodlander Farouche this year.
Emma is offering the top mare an embryo transfer package at Mount St John.
“We like to promote the breeding side to people — not everyone at the highest level has had exposure to affordable AI [artificial insemination]. Any mare in the top few at that sort of level should probably be considered for breeding,” she says.
The class takes place at 6pm on Friday, 10 October. The starting list is:
1. Alfons and Spencer Wilton
2. AMD Don Rosso II and Matt Frost
3. Excalibur and Matt Hicks
4. Selten HW and Anders Dahl
5. Woodlander Farouche and Michael Eilberg
6. Zamboucca and Spencer Wilton
7. Barolo and Charlotte Dujardin
8. Bohemo Tinto and Emile Faurie