The country’s leading show jumpers and top showing connections will be heading to Birmingham this week for the equestrian extravaganza that is the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).

There is record prize money on offer this year, which is expected to attract famous faces from abroad, but Britain’s best will be out in force, with Olympians Nick Skelton and Robert Smith ready to do battle with the Whitaker clan. They will be joined by David McPherson, Guy Williams, Mennell Watson and Sophie Tobin, who secured HOYS wildcard entries at two fiercely competitive qualifying competitions earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the cream of the showing world will also be descending on Birmingham to compete for the prestigious HOYS titles. The Thomas yard, which has been virtually unbeatable all season, has a strong hand to play, with Royal International supreme show hunter pony Chiddock Over The Limit heading their 21-strong pony team.

In a novel move, dressage is also to feature at HOYS this year, when 12 riders will compete against each other as teams in individual, pair and group tests. Billed as a “fun” competition, plenty of pride will be at stake, as Olympic judge Stephen Clarke and British chef d’equipe David Trott assess the performance.

As always, HOYS features fabulous entertainment for all the family alongside the thrilling competition.

The “Flying Frenchman”, Lorenzo, will dazzle crowds with his daredevil stunt riding, which includes flying over a series of jumps while standing on the backs of several of his stunning grey Lusitano horses.

A Parelli demonstration will take place on Saturday afternoon, teaching people to understand horses through a step-by-step programme using the horse’s own language and unique psychology.

The Household Cavalry will perform their world-famous musical ride, while five-gaited Icelandic ponies will make their first appearance at the event in a showcase performance.

In traditional style, the CountryView Mounted Games for the Prince Philip Cup will take every day during the show. The six teams who, through immense skill and determination, have fought off over 250 other teams to qualify for HOYS are Atherstone Hunt, Badsworth Hunt, Crickhowell & District, Eglington Hunt, Poole & District and West Perthshire.

Visit H&H at HOYS

Carl Hester will be signing autographs on the Horse & Hound stand at HOYS on Saturday. Copies of his book will also be on sale on the stand, so don’t miss this opportunity to get a signed copy.

Special show giveaways on the H&H stand at HOYS include:

  • Six bridles from Battle, Hayward & Bower Ltd with Hydrophane cleaning products
  • £1,000 worth of Harry Hall clothing
  • Nutri Science Products
  • Serious Horseplay computer game packs
  • 10 Magnessages from Premier Equine
  • Vote for your favourite part of the HOYS action in our weekly survey (right)
  • Visit www.hoys.co.uk for more information about the show, including ticket prices and a full timetable
  • Stay in touch with all the latest action from HOYS throughout the week with HHO’s daily online updates from the show, starting Wednesday