There has been talk about whether HOYS should be upgraded to a four-star show. While there are plenty of different ways for British riders to qualify for here, the fact it is a three-star show does give the riders who aren’t at the top of the rankings, like myself, the experience of riding in this kind of environment.
If it were a four-star show, I probably wouldn’t have the chance to come here, and riding at HOYS helps both me and my horses to improve.
The top riders, like the Whitakers and Ben Maher, also use this show for their second-string horses to gain valuable experience. Plus, with three world-ranking competitions already in place, I don’t think the quality of international classes is disappointing.
I qualified via the wildcard system at Bury Farm with my home-bred mare Larksong, which then allowed me to bring three horses to HOYS. In the end, a wild card was my only route to the show, as qualifying through the gold league is restricted from April to July. My mare was only just stepping up to this level in April, so it was just too soon for her — if the gold league had run until mid- September it would have suited us better.
I think it is great that county shows host stairway classes — it gives riders who don’t have a big team of horses, but who want to ride at HOYS, a route to the show. I am a huge supporter of the county show circuit.
I agree with Graham Fletcher’s comment that there should still be young rider classes at HOYS. It should be about showcasing future talent and it is a great experience for the youngsters. When I first jumped here there were both under-18 and under-21 classes. I definitely found jumping in that atmosphere as a young rider beneficial, the more times you can do it the better.
It was amazing to jointly win Friday’s five-fence challenge with Sebastian VII. It was the first time both of us had done that type of class and I really enjoyed it. He does tend to get a bit tense indoors, so to keep going back into the arena for each round was good for him and he kept on improving with every round and that is the beauty of that format.
I would be really pleased to see more passes offered to riders at HOYS. At the moment, each horse gets three passes, however, a few of my horses are owned by couples and by the time you’ve included grooms and family, it does become restricted. The price of buying extra wristbands has also risen. Showjumpers are expensive horses to own and I think syndicates should be encouraged, like in racing, but three passes among a syndicate is problematic.
Keep the Foxhunter magic
Having won the H&H Foxhunter with my mare Opportunity B in 2003 (pictured) it is one of my favourite classes. It is so historic and the one everyone wants to win. There has been talk about changing it to an age class, which I don’t agree with; it would be a huge shame — the H&H Foxhunter is unique.
I was delighted with how Balouetta jumped in it on Thursday, and even more chuffed that her owners and breeders, Philip and Jane Tuckwell, won the British-bred breeders award.
Ref: Horse & Hound; 15 October 2015