Jess Bennett is a former British junior dressage team member, but international-level dressage was becoming increasingly difficult for her and her mother’s Atlantic Prospect. But Jess hadn’t considered showing as an alternative.

The South Essex Insurance Brokers Search for a Star (SFAS) competition caught her eye, and the challenge proved an exponential learning curve for the duo.

Unsure of what was expected of them, how they were to present themselves or what she should wear, Jess threw herself into the competition, beating scores of riders nationwide to take the individual Hack championship and the 2004 Supreme Championship at HOYS.

“In the spotlight and in front of the Birmingham crowds, the horse came really alive,” explained Anne Pritchard, who was judging alongside Robert Oliver. “The atmosphere rather over-awed some of the others, but not this mare. She became a true Hack and earned her title!”

Robert Oliver was similarly impressed by the standard in this year’s competition. “I have been judging this competition since it began nine years ago and without doubt, the standard this year was the highest ever,” he said.

“The quality of the horses, the way they are turned out and the standard of riding has gone up and up and this has been a true testimonial to the enthusiasm of the amateur riders and owners throughout the country.”

Individual champions

Hunter: Joe Trigger, owned by Mr Mark Hallett, ridden by Jane Reynolds
Riding Horse: Parkhall After Eight, owned by Mrs Jackie Northridge, ridden by Charlotte Kerry
Show Pony: Queensdale Cameron, owned by Mrs Faith Done, ridden by Andrew Done
Show hunter Pony: Perryditch Star Witness, owned by Mrs Celia Clapham, ridden by Amy Clapham
Working Hunter: Simone, owned and ridden by Denise Richardson
Cob: Pebbly Samuria, ridden and owned by Tracey Winfield. Congratulations to HHO forum member Kathryn Learner, who was placed fourth with Lady Grey
Riding Club Show Horse: Stackpole Artamus, owned by Mrs Gina Desai, ridden by Emily Richardson-Stokes
Hack Atlantic Prospect, owned and ridden by Jess Bennett

Supreme Champion: Atlantic Prospect, owned and ridden by Jess Bennett
Reserve Champion: Queensdale Cameron, owned by Mrs Faith Done, ridden by Andrew Done