Following a disappointing show season due to FMD, this year’s HOYS hunter classes will be a mixture of old and new faces

For most exhibitors, this year’s Horse of the Year Show can’t come soon enough. Foot and mouth has led to many postponements and cancellations of HOYS qualifiers, and organisers have been forced to add on extra qualifying dates.

The season may never have really got started, but that doesn’t detract fromthe standard of this year’s entries, which promises to be as high as ever. Although a few favourites are missing there are plenty of new faces, ready to take up the challenge.

The McCusker Show Hunter of the Year Championship is always popular and this year is no exception. Last year’s champion, the heavyweight King Street and reserve, the middleweight Guardsman, are both absent which leaves the door wide open for two new stars to emerge.

A strong lightweight section with 23 entries sees last year’s winner Meynell Tumbler back to defend his title, as well as the second placed horse Statesman. Other prolific winners include the 2000 Hickstead champion Sandy Lane, Rosenbright, the lightly shown Cool Bawn who was champion at Yorkshire,Diplomatic II and Bourne Brook Golden Law.

The middleweights promises to be a close run battle, with John and Sue Rawding’s Reaction, the quality middleweight Man Of Honour, the seasoned campaigner Jamaica Bay and Enigmatic who appears to be the strongest contender to date.

The heavyweights just wouldn’t be the same without Helicon, back for the third consecutive year. Other notable quality entries are Otter Point, Clarence who won at Hickstead, Dooley’s Greenhill and Pacific Time.

This year will almost certainly see a middleweight take the title with a lightweight taking reserve. But HOYS being HOYS, anything can happen.

Follow all the action from HOYS in Horse & Hound Online’s daily reports this week (2 – 7 October)