Just 24 hours before Horse of the Year Show’s (HOYS) Cuddy supreme in-hand championship, judge Jennifer Williams was asked to stand down due to a connection with producer Jerome Harforth, who had three exhibits qualified for the Cuddy.
Shortly before HOYS started, both Mrs Williams and the Yorkshire producer received anonymous letters threatening to expose them to the BBC.
Mrs Willliams was invited to judge at HOYS in May 2007. In May 2008, before Mr Harforth had qualified any horses for the Cuddy championship, she sent a broodmare to stud at his Stanley Grange Stables.
Under all breed society rules this connection is acceptable, but under HOYS rules it is not.
“Sadly, when Mrs Williams brought this letter to our attention, we had no option but to ask her to stand down,” said Mark Wein of HOYS organisers Grandstand Media.
With no time left to find an alternative, the long-standing judge Eddie Tamplin took sole charge of the championship.
Mrs Williams, wife of the late Dorian Williams, has had a long involvement with HOYS. She told H&H she was “devastated”.
“I feel deeply upset that something like this has happened, especially in the diamond jubilee year. I shall be seeking advice whether any further action can be taken [against the letter writers],” said Mrs Williams.
Mr Harforth said he was unaware of the HOYS ruling.
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (16 October, ’08)