This year’s showing classes are more open than ever before, with several top names meeting for only the second time this season

Showing classes at HOYS have a new climax this year as, for the first time, some 18 horse and pony champions will be eligible for the show’s supreme award on Sunday afternoon. Judged by Horse & Hound Editor Arnold Garvey and Breeders’ Challenge sponsor Gail Chapman, this has previously been solely a pony competition.

The Breeders’ Challenge will be judged by two seasoned producers – Horse & Hound columnist Stuart Hollings, and Stella Harries, producer of the legendary Brown Buzzard, hack of the year in 1982.

Wortley Stud has four full-brothers and sister Welsh section B qualified, while Babs Ruchwaldy’s Yealand ponies have filled no fewer than nine places in hack, show pony and SHP ranks.

The change of ruling this year in the working hunters has yielded nine more finalists, with some making their HOYS debuts. But few would bet against reigning title-holder Tim Fairburn with Scotch The Rumours. However, the 2001 RIHS champion and reserve, Heatwave (Rory Gilsenan) and The Barsteward (Kelly Lyons) will be strongly fancied.

TheBells’ 1999 HOYS winner and 2000 runner-up, Mendip Macho, has been on form, as has Out Of Sight, who will stand a good chance in the ridden middleweights. Others with realistic dual bids include Beamish (David Bartram), Mountain Ember (Jack Cochrane) and Hazewind (Sam Fisher), contesting the lightweights and the workers.

Guy Landau has been seen only rarely this season, but when he did bring John Dunlop’s lightweight, Statesman, out he duly won. The team is planning to retire the horse after Wembley.

In last year’s hack division, Pencroft Blue Print (Robert Walker) deposed some established names, and this smart bay had an ideal preparation under the spotlights at BSPS. But among the young pretenders to this title is Colbeach Starlight Express (Simon Charlesworth), another to shine at Peterborough.

Read Horse & Hound Online’s preview articles on the hunter weights and mini Mountain and Moorland classes next week.

Click here to read the Horse of the Year Show timetable.