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Rebecca Brierley is still recovering from the shock of her “gift horse” — the seven-year-old lightweight cob Barney Rubble V — being crowned the supreme champion of the Essex Insurance Brokers Search for a Star at HOYS.

Rebecca, a company director from Huddersfield, travelled to Birmingham for the Search for a Star Cob class on Wednesday, with few expectations: “We were hoping to get the best turned-out prize, and couldn’t believe it when we won the class.”

This made an already busy week even more hectic, as work commitments saw Rebecca making a flying visit to Germany on Thursday, before returning to Birmingham for the supreme final on Saturday.

“Barney was an absolute star throughout,” Rebecca told HHO. “He was rock solid in the line-up and he loved the atmosphere. He has got good paces and certainly can operate. He was really pinging during the final judging.”

Rebecca admits she has come a long way since Barney’s surprise arrival just over one year ago saw her return to competitive riding.

“Barney was a gift from my husband last August. Although I competed in Pony Club competitions as a child, I hadn’t ridden competitively for years. I had never ridden at a county show until this spring and now I have won a class at HOYS. It all seems quite unreal.”

Rebecca describes Barney as “one in a million” and says he will never be sold.

“My plans for the coming winter are to hunt and compete in indoor dressage and show jumping competitions. Next season we will aim at open lightweight and working cob classes.

“Barney is only seven so I hope to have many more years of fun with him, especially as he is such a versatile little horse with an outstanding temperament. He has a home for life with us. When his competitive career comes to an end he will move to the Lake District to be my mother’s hack.”

Reserve champion was the four-year-old ex-racehorse turned show hack, Millimetre. Julie Farrell and Hilary Curtis bought Millimetre when they went for “a girls day out” to the Ascot Sales.

“When he came into the ring we were stunned at the low price, so we bought him,” says Julie. Their spur of the moment decision appears to have been an astute one, with a successful showing career beckoning for the former racehorse.

Search for a Star judge Robert Oliver says: “They were two wonderful horses – indeed, most of the horses we saw in this South Essex Insurance Brokers class could have gone on to compete in the open classes at this most prestigious show.”

Search for a star champions

  • Supreme and cob: Barney Rubble V (Rebecca Brierley)
  • Reserve and hack: Millimetre (Julie Farrell and Hilary Curtis)
  • Riding horse: Catherston Goldcrest (Sarah Oldham)
  • Riding club show horse: Secret Melody (Donna Knowles)
  • Ponies: Ockley Fiasco (Jamie Andrew) and Rotherwood Peterkin (Ella Morris)
  • Working hunter: Rapps Diamond Jack (Karen Johnson)
  • Ridden hunter: Amazing Grace (Christine Booth)