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It was wall-to-wall hunters starting off proceedings in the Andrews Bowen International Arena at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) on Wednesday, as the cr ¨me-de-la-cr ¨me of light, middle and heavyweight horses came before Paul Cook and Sue Rawding.

Taking the coveted TopSpec tricolour was Cheshire rider and producer Danielle Heath riding Sally Iggulden’s middleweight winner Oathills Take The Biscuit. This classy Drayton five-year-old, bred by Julia Anderson, also stood ladies champion recently at the National Hunter championships.

Danielle had double cause for celebration as this was her first ever Horse of the Year Show win.

“We’ve had an amazing first open season. He qualified at the first attempt, and he couldn’t have gone any better today, he really shone and raised his game from start to finish” said Danielle.

Taking the reserve was Oliver Hood riding Act Flyn Lad who stood top of the heavyweights. This was Oliver’s first (HOYS) hunter win, and it proved the ideal tonic for Act Flyn Lad’s 96-year-old owner Leonard Holt who recently suffered a stroke.

In his third season showing with Oliver, the upstanding eight-year-old has registered wins at Suffolk, South Suffolk and Kent this summer.

“He’s had a fairly light summer, but we’ve kept him ticking over at home, and worked hard on our flat work with Ruth McMullen” said Oliver.

Following on from their intermediate victory with Utah on the opening day, the Underwood stable added to their winning tally when Leon King topped the lightweight division with Loch Royal.

Bought unbroken, this 10-year-old son of Loch Peal was a successful small hunter before upgrading to the weight divisions, and he was maintaining great lightweight form here, as he stood fourth last year.

Coincidentally, both Oathills Take The Biscuit and Loch Royal are also qualified for Friday’s ladies class.

HOYS showing results: Wednesday

Top Spec hunter (Mrs S Rawding, Mr P Cook) lwt.– 1, P Underwood’s Loch Royal; 2, M & J Jerram’s Dunbeacon; 3, Dr O’Connel’s Bloomfield Basil. mwt. – 1 & ch, S Iggulden’s Oathills Take The Biscuit; 2, C Stowell-Davies’s Standing Ovation; 3, Mr & Mrs Hall’s Bann View. hwt.– 1 & res, L Holt’s Act Flyn Lad; 2, B White’s Loughkeen Dancing Lord; 3, Mr & Mrs Hall’s Major Moylaw.