A showing rider almost ignored a phone call confirming she had qualified for the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) as she thought it was a PPI sales call.

Holly Rowbotham finished just outside the qualifying places in an SEIB Search for a Star class (SFAS) at Osbaldeston in April with her riding horse Bazaars Highwayman (“Monty”).

But after an “irregularity” was found concerning one of those placed above her, Cheshire-based housing association officer Holly made it through.

“I was putting Monty in the field when I got the call — at first I nearly didn’t answer because I thought it might be a PPI sales call,” confessed Holly. “I got the shock of my life when SEIB offered me the chance to go to HOYS.”

Holly has owned the nine-year-old gelding for almost two years.

“My keen showjumper had to be retired to a quieter broodmare life and I tried a dozen horses in an attempt to replace her,” she said. “No horse even came close — then a couple of months on, my friend Ally Cooper suggested a young bay gelding by Bazaars Chief, a stallion renowned for his trainable, sane youngstock.

“We travelled to Stafford one night after work, battling the M6, to meet Monty. He was sweet, safe and sane and after I had tried him – and got no further than 500 yards down the road – I turned round and made his owners an offer.”

Holly bought Monty to event. The combination has competed at British Eventing BE90, as well as British Showjumping and Team Quest British Dressage competitions.

“I decided to enter SFAS after watching Ally at last year’s final, where the atmosphere and opportunities for amateurs inspired me,” Holly said. “I only entered two showing shows beforehand, so I’m overwhelmed we’ve qualified.

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“He’s just so loving – all horses have their good and bad days but no matter what, Monty always likes a fuss and after I’ve had a long day at work, he’s always pleased to see me.”

“It was very unfortunate that the original person had to be disqualified, but the rules are very important to us,” said SEIB marketing manager Nicolina MacKenzie. “We will always do our best to ensure that only eligible competitors go to HOYS — the phone call to Holly was one I was very pleased to make!”

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