After a long and illustrious showing career, John Dunlop’s Finn McCool took his final bow after clinching the ridden hunter title at HOYS for the second year running under Guy Landau.

This season alone, Finn McCool has won six major titles, and the Supreme Edge nine-year-old claimed the 2008 supreme ridden horse title here last October.

“Win, lose or draw, the little horse retires today,” said Guy, who dismounted while Finn McCool was under the championship spotlight, and led him from the ring for the final time.

Robert Walker claimed the reserve hunter title riding Jill Day’s middleweight winner Pride and Joy II, and also coming into the final reckoning were the heavyweight winners Robert Oliver and Loughkeen Dancing Lord.

The South Essex Insurance Brokers Search for a Star series again attracted great spectator interest in the Caldene Arena.

First winner of the 2009 finals was Malcolm Dixon who headed the cob section riding Chinwaggfin. Malcolm bought his seven-year-old bay gelding from a local dealer in Caerphilly as a foal.

“I thought he might make a decent small hunter, so I turned him away on the mountains to mature,” said Malcolm.

“He was so comfortable, and mannerly. I could stay on him all day,” said ride judge Claire Oliver.

Robert Oliver, Marjorie Ramsay and Claire Oliver again gave a lively commentary throughout their judging, and demonstrated how much emphasis they put on manners, by dismissing their original first choice in the riding club show horse class for misbehaving during presentation.

Promoted to the top spot was Nicola Keating-Bell’s home-bred Innish Verdel. The nine-year-old dun mare is by Innish Free, out of Nicola’s retired show hunter pony Fairlyn Mayfly, who is now aged 20.

“She has a great personality, and her flat work is amazing,” said Nicola, who intends to campaign her mare in riding horse classes next season.

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