Opinion

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After 70 years, it’s great that the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) is still going strong and we all get the chance to ride in that amazing atmosphere.

This year was the first time I jumped in the international classes, and while it’s a three-star, the environment, organisation and the number of spectators make it more like a five-star in many ways.

The national classes are something we all try to qualify for when we are younger, and the international has always attracted a great standard of riders even when other shows are on.

This year we may have lost a couple to Barcelona, but there was still brilliant competition.

I had a few almost-wins with my horses, and I was really pleased with how Ebolensky jumped in only her second three-star grand prix. She won the Foxhunter here last year, and so many horses who have done well in that class go on to better things. For her to go on from that to being in the running for the leading showjumper in the space of a year was a great achievement for the horse and I couldn’t be happier with her.

It’s difficult for a course-builder to get it right for a big class when there are only 26 on the start-list, but I thought there were just the right number of clears in the grand prix to please the crowd.

Time for change?

HOYS has its own way of doing things; it doesn’t change much over the years, and from a rider’s point of view, it’s nice as you know what to expect. If I could change anything, it would be to question whether the five-fence challenge works for the crowds. It can be quite exciting when there’s a smaller start-list, but perhaps there might be something a bit more appealing to an audience to replace it?

It was great to see the young riders all going well and Joe Stockdale’s clear in the grand prix was fantastic.

Having heard the news about his father Tim this week, it was the perfect tonic to see Joe go out and produce a performance like that.

Ref Horse & Hound; 11 October 2018