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Quality Old Joker, 2016’s HOYS Puissance winner showed he is no one trick pony when winning the Zinc Management Speed Horse of the Year class at HOYS (Horse of the Year Show today (8 October).

Ridden by Holly Smith, the nine-year-old that was also third in the Hickstead Derby this year, were ninth to go in this class and posted just one of four clear rounds in a time of 61.24 seconds.

“To look at he’s not very special, but he is such a good horse that can turn his hand to anything,” said Holly, who was competing in this class for the first time and who was the only rider to take a stride out to the last fence.. “I took a risk to the second last as we were a bit forward and loose, but I had to take a chance if I wanted to win.”

Holly explained that she hadn’t thought about competing in this class at the beginning of the week.

“As it’s turned out, I’ve got an eight-year-old that I’d like to jump in the grand prix, so I thought I would enter Quality Old Joker into this speed class as he would have a good chance of winning it as we could comfortably take strides out over 1.45m.

“He’s my third string horse at a lot of shows and we take him to clean up in other classes — he’s not an Olympic horse but he has serious guts.”

Holly’s husband, Graham, bought ‘George’ as a just-broken four-year-old from Goresbrisge sales in Ireland.

“Graham called me and said ‘I’ve bought myself a hunter that you might like to jump’,” explains Holly. “When George arrived home, I took one look at him and thought ‘oh my God, what have you bought’ as he is 18hh and has a big head.”

Holly says that George is known as ‘the dog’ at home.

“He follows you round and licks us all, but he is quirky too, being very spooky and will bolt to field when he’s turned out,” she laughs.

Belgina Francois Mathy was second on Casanova De L’Herse, finishing just 0.08 of a second behind Holly.

Read the full report from HOYS in the next issue of Horse & Hound 12 October).