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This year’s Horse of the Year Show is taking place slightly earlier than its traditionally date (17-21 September) and promises to be even better than last year, when record crowds converged on the show’s popular new home, the NEC Arena in Birmingham.

Show jumping fans will undoubtedly be kept on the edge of their seats as their heroes do battle for a total prize fund of £78,540. International classes include the crowd-pleasing AON Puissance on Saturday evening and the Colourhouse Speed Horse of the Year on the final day. Sunday’s £7,500-to-the-winner grand prix will bring the top class jumping action to a close.

National classes include the finals of the prestigious Horse & Hound Foxhunter class — the one that all the riders want to win — plus the BEIB Grade C, Great Leighs Newcomers, Rexton Speed & Power, AON Six-Year-Old and Thomas Bates Seven-Year-Old finals.

The leading rider on points in this year’s international classes will take home a £1,350 saddle, courtesy of First Thought Equine, while the show’s leading male and female riders will be awarded the traditional HOYS spurs, sponsored by Neil Jones Equestrian.

Concerns that the NEC might lack the atmosphere of Wembley proved unfounded last year, and competition for the qualifying places for the showing finals has been as fierce as ever. A number of first-timers will be taking on established names in the horse and pony classes alike while the supreme horse and supreme pony of the show will be crowned during Sunday’s “gala” evening performance.

This year’s show will also see the grooms in the spotlight. The groom of the best turned out horse or pony in each of the 56 showing sections will receive a waterproof jacket, courtesy of Shires Equestrian Products, while the horse’s owner will receive a special rosette.

Equine entertainment

Alongside showing and show jumping of the highest possible standard, HOYS has a brand new selection of top class entertainment to keep the crowd enthralled.

This year’s headline display is the story of Equitis Virtus (The Brave Horseman). Set in the days of the Roman Empire, this action-packed feature presentation tells the story of a peasant farmer who is enslaved and trained to be a gladiator.

This specially choreographed display is performed in full Roman costume and stars Ian van Temperley — who has performed stunts in many movies and is the driving force behind the Horseman of the Apocalypse stunt team.

Leading Spanish equestrian Jesús Maroles Sánchez will be performing a special adaptation of traditional Spanish riding at this year’s event. Featuring Spanish guitarists playing live in the arena, the high-speed display demonstrates exquisite horsemanship while working with the traditional garrocha (a 13ft pole).

And Britain’s potential stars of the future have not been left out either with the Cheshire North Branch of the Pony Club present a spectacular mystical musical display of synchronised riding and horsemanship titled “The Magical World of Horses”.

All three displays will take place during every evening performance and also during the afternoon performance on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The HOYS Gala

The show culminates with a fantastic gala performance on Sunday evening.
The entertainment begins with the world’s first ever opera band, Amici forever, before the entertaining Celebrity Hurry Scurry in which a show jumper, scurry driver and leading National Hunt jockey join forces in a fast and furious team relay.

As well as the fabulous displays, the HOYS supreme horse and pony of the year will be crowned during the evening and the Equestrian of the Year Trophy will be awarded in recognition of a unique achievement in the equestrian world.

The agile young members of The Pony Club will do battle for the Prince Philip Cup, which will be presented to the winning team by The Princess Royal. International show jumping action will be providing by the Horse of the Year Show Grand Prix.

The five-day show will conclude with a spectacular finale, which pays tribute to British medal winners in all equestrian disciplines throughout the year, together with the show’s champions.

Click here to view the show’s full timetable.

Shop ’til you drop

Credit cards at the ready – HOYS has a record number of stands at this year’s event, with excellent retail therapy on hand in the shopping pavilion, which will be open from 9am until 15min after the evening performance interval each day.

Visitors to the Horse & Hound trade stand will have the chance to win a fabulous John Whitaker Avanzata Saddle worth more than £1,000 (www.johnwhitakerintltd.com), plus a new wardrobe of equestrian clothing worth £1,000, courtesy of Harry Hall clothing (www.harryhall.co.uk). The latest issue of Horse & Hound will be on sale as well as the chance to take advantage of some great subscription offers.

Getting to HOYS

Tickets cost from £15 (child/ OAP) up to £46 for premium ringside seats, with weekly season tickets available for £230 (adult) and £199 (child). Tickets for Wednesday and Thursday cover the whole day and are good value as they also give entry to the international collecting ring area.

There are also weekday special tickets, which give entry for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday’s daytime performance. For more information contact the box office (tel: 08700 101052) or visit: www.hoys.co.uk

The NEC is accessible by road from the M1, M6, M40 and M42 motorways. It has more than 22,000 car parking spaces (£5 per car).

The arena is served by Birmingham International station, connected by a covered bridge link. Trains from London take around 90min. Birmingham International airport is only a few minutes from the venue.

For details of coach trips, contact the groups booking line (tel: 020 8900 9282). NB: No dogs are allowed at HOYS.

TV times

If you are unable to attend the show, and you are a Sky Sport subscriber, then all is not lost. The action from HOYS will be broadcasted at the following times:

  • Tuesday 30 September, 9pm on Sky Sport 3
  • Tuesday 30 September, 12 midnight on Sky Sport 2
  • Wednesday 1 October, 12 noon and 3.30pm on Sky Sport 2