There will be no Simon Cowell or Cheryl Cole but visitors to next year’s British Open will be treated to an X Factor- style showdown.

Four equestrian acts will battle it out in the inaugural “H Factor” competition to win the chance to perform at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) 2010.

The finalists were whittled down from nine who auditioned at Addington Equestrian Centre in August.

The final four are Equestrienne — an all-action stunt show featuring female riders from Surrey; Saffron Walden Musical Ride — a team from Essex that performs dressage to music; Knights of Middle England — medieval jousting and stunt riding with a twist from the Warwick-based Knights, and Rockin’ Horse — an eccentric fast-paced stunt show.

The acts will perform each day at the British Open 2010 (7-10 April) at Birmingham’s NEC.

The public will then choose their favourite in a special text vote and the winner will be announced on the Saturday.

“The competition was devised to seek out new equestrian talent,” said Helena Pettit from show organisers, Grandstand.

The auditions were judged on the groups’ expertise, a polished performance and what they believed would appeal to the British Open’s audience.

Karl Ude-Martinez from the Knights of Middle England told H&H: “We have fast horses, stunts and tricks and we jazz it up to music. To win and go to HOYS would be fantastic.”

For more information on the H Factor visit: www.britishopenshowjumping.com

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (17 December, ’09)