One of the youngest Shire handlers ever to qualify for HOYS is giving up his big chance in favour of his father

Lincolnshire farmer, Matthew Burks, 21, is giving up his chance to become the youngest ever handler of a Shire at Wembley in favour of his father, Jim.

Matthew, who started his showing career at the age of 10, said: “My dad has been showing Shires for 50 years and it’s been his lifelong ambition to show at Wembley. This was the first year we qualified. He’s getting on in life and I’ve got many more chances to get there.”

And Matthew may not have that long to wait. The three-year-old grey mare the family has qualified this year, Stonemoor Silver Lady, is in foal. She is one of four horses the family have at their farm in Market Rasen, where they breed and sell horses as a hobby.

Matthew, who is sponsored by Blue Chip, says he’s had a good year.

“On the one hand there’s not been a lot of shows because of foot and mouth, but it’s been the best year for qualifying. It’s very exciting.”

Managing director at Blue Chip, Clare Blaskey, said: “Matthew and his family are preserving part of our heritage. It is vital for heavy horse breeds, now that they are no longer an essential part of agricultural life, that young people are encouraged to continue the tradition by learning how to best feed and care for these magnificent animals.”

The Burk’s Shire horse class at HOYS takes place on Wednesday 3 October.

For tickets contact the 24hr booking line (tel: 0870 121 0125) or the box office (tel: 0870 121 0125). For more information visit www.hoys.co.uk