Up-to-height, imposing, spooky and clever — the working hunter course at Horse of the Year Show (5-9 October) is notorious for being a tough test and, if you have never seen the fences in person, looking through the images below is the next best thing.

The championship kicked off this afternoon (Wednesday 5 October), and only nine clears were recorded out of 37 starters.

One horse was eliminated for three refusals, one rider fell off and another retired.

Scroll down to find out what each fence looked like, and which caused the most problems.


Number of errors: 1


Designer David Cole kicked his course off with a triple bar this year. The only horse to fault at fence one was Andrew Amy’s General Law, who ran out. The Sian David-owned eight-year-old was noticeably spooky, and his round came to premature end when he refused at fence six twice and was eliminated.


Number of errors: 1


This was flagged so that riders could negotiate the narrow left-hand side, which curved away from horses as they took off, or the wider right-hand side which curved towards them. Only one horse touched it, the nine-year-old Catch The Beaver, who knocked down six fences in total and was retired by Louise Bell after fence nine.

FENCES 3a and 3b

Number of errors: 12


Several horses found the distance long in this curving two-stride double. The oxer in was dislodged by three horses — Catch The Beaver, Hannah Sloan’s Tinkas Flash and Sarah Lears’ Tyrone — while the upright behind it fell eight times, including for Libby Cooke’s great campaigner Harley Foxtrot.

The upright also caused the only rider fall of the class. This was from Pearl Underwoods’ Ballyknock Fountain Boy, who slammed on the brakes and sent his jockey, showjumper Holly Smith, over his head. Holly took a few moments to get to her feet, but walked out of the arena.


Number of errors: 6


Riders landed from the double and steered right-handed around the far end of the Andrew Bowen international arena to get to this hanging gate. Rosie Skier and Uroko incurred their only penalty here, while others picking up penalties included Mousa Kousa (Libby Cooke), Scarthill Kingdom (Lucinda Henson) and Brechea Cai (Amy Tough).


Number of errors: 7


The rose garden oxer was the brightest fence on the track and seven horses knocked it down. Bloomfield Bergerac (Adam Taylor) made his first of two errors here, while this was the site of the only mistake made by Southerly Roberts’ Tinx.


Number of errors: 4


None of the 37 horses knocked this fence down, but three spooked at the black water tray underneath. General Law was eliminated after refusing twice, while Royal Gent (Victoria Mitson) stopped once and Thor (Lily Roberts) glanced off.


Number of errors: 1


A fir tree (not pictured) was cleverly positioned in front of this obstacle, meaning riders couldn’t ride in a straight line to the middle part. Nevertheless, it prompted fewer problems than last year and only fell for Michaela Bowling’s Diamant White.

There appeared to be no clear preference for riders when choosing whether to negotiate this upright on the longer right-hand side or going left, which made the line to the next fence shorter. However, three riders defied the course-designer by wiggling around the fir tree and clearing the fence in the middle. These were Mel Hennah on Anchorman, Derek Morton on Keep Talking and Daniel Brian on Red Why Salut.


Number of errors: 14


This autumn leaves oxer became the bogey fence, with 14 horses faulting. Andor O (Justine Armstrong Small), Bushmills (Adele Hanson), Pembroke Grey Mist (Olivia Dales) , Theatre World (Louise Lyons) and Keep Talking marred otherwise clear rounds at this fence.


Number of errors: 0


This was one of the most influential fences last year, but this time around it stayed in tact all afternoon. It was in a new position, with horses passing the arena entrance to get to it.


Number of errors: 6


These uneven planks were new for 2016 and demanded respect. They caught out six horses, including Anchorman, All Ireland (Holly Harling) and Toronto (Matthew Cooper), whose rounds were otherwise error-free.

Fence 11

Number of errors: 3


Tyrone walloped this green oxer but it stayed in its cups. Three more horses were less fortunate, however, with Skip On Over (Ginny Rose), Winterstorm (Emma Nettleton) and Cruising On (Charles Morgan) all penalised for knocking it down.

FENCES 12a & 12b

Number of errors: 6


The notorious Stonehenge fence made its return this year and it had a new look — silver poles and planks as an upright to an oxer on a one-stride distance. Both fell three times.

Ten combinations went through to the final judging, where the Cuddy working hunter of the year champion will be crowned on Wednesday evening. Come back to horseandhound.co.uk to find out who wins.

Don’t miss the full HOYS report in next week’s issue of H&H, on sale Thursday 13 October.