Irish competitors will no longer have to travel overseas to pick up a ticket for a number of Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) showing classes, as qualifiers will return to the Emerald Isle in 2016.

Six qualifying classes will be held at the Northern Ireland Festival (22-24 April). Show organiser John Irwin told H&H he has been “walking on air” since receiving the confirmation on 30 November.

The show has been granted qualifiers for the Cuddy working hunter of the year championship (horses) as well as the 133cm, 143cm, 153cm and intermediate working hunter pony of the year. It has also been awarded a Cuddy in-hand championship qualifier.

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“It has been a while since we have had HOYS qualifiers in Ireland, and to get that range is fantastic,” Mr Irwin said. “It just lifts the show to a different level.”

Tattersalls and Clogher Valley Show are among the Irish shows that have held qualifiers in the past.

However, no HOYS-connected classes were held in Ireland in 2015.

Mr Irwin started the festival 11 years ago and it has grown from being a one-day show with 300 entries to a two-and-a-half-day show with 1,600 entries.

He said that next year he has plans for it to run over the full three days and the total prize fund will be around £16,000.

The show is held just over the border in the Republic of Ireland at Cavan Equestrian Centre in Latt.

“My phone has not stopped ringing — so many people are excited,” he said.

Grandstand Media — which runs HOYS — has not yet released its full list of qualifiers for next year’s show.

A Grandstand Media spokesman told H&H on 26 November that qualifiers are usually finalised by the end of the year.

Ref: H&H 10 December, 2015