For the first time in two years, home-produced horses and their dedicated owners and riders took to the stage at the world famous Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) to compete in the highly anticipated SEIB Search For A Star (SFAS) finals.
Find out who won each of the classes during the week at HOYS:
SFAS Traditional Cob
Eye Candy II (Diesel) and Harriet Conlon headed the first class of the show. Harriet, a patient flow coordinator based in Stoke-on-Trent, has been working throughout the pandemic and while the pair have enjoyed much success in open coloured ranks, they decided to try the SFAS series and achieve their dreams of riding at HOYS. They qualified at the Stoneleigh SFAS qualifier.
“Diesel is my best friend,” said Harriet. “I wanted to do SFAS because we’d tried a couple of open classes a few years ago and I felt that I needed something to help me progress in the ring. The past months have been hard; I’ve been working as part of the COVID-19 response at Royal Stoke Hospital. Winning here at HOYS has really given me a boost. I’m looking forward to telling everyone about this at work tomorrow!”
SFAS Show Cob
The show cob class was led by Athlone Lad and self-employed dog groomer and dog day care provider Sarah Adams. At the start of the season, Sarah nearly decided to sell her gelding though decided against it and was thrilled to qualify for HOYS on their fourth attempt this year at Bury Farm. Athlone Lad has previously suffered from EMS and Sarah has worked hard to get him on the road and maintain his show condition.
“I am ecstatic, especially as our journey has been a challenging one,” said Sarah. “Jordan Cook (judge) said to keep going which encouraged me, and Richard Ramsay (judge) suggested we went out cubbing. I got my brave pants on and took him out and he absolutely loved it.”
Molecule One (Pearl) and Bethany Phoenix clinched the hack accolade. Pearl was only contending her sixth show:
“She’s my horse of a lifetime,” said Bethany. “Anything you ask of her she does and she hits everything in her stride. It has always been my dream to ride here and riding in the TopSpec arena was the best feeling in the world. I can’t wait to try open classes next year.”
SFAS Riding Horse
Trenavey Dazzler and Jordan Meakins won a competitive riding horse class. The gelding by Catherston Dazzler has evented up to novice level, but following a bad fall Jordan decided to give showing a go. This pair qualified for the HOYS Search for a Star finals at West Wilts Equestrian Centre.
SFAS Working Show Horse
True all-rounder Latice (Louis) captured his class for his delighted owner Polly Baker, who lives in Norfolk and works in Newmarket as a secretary at the Newmarket Equine.
“I was meant to be going home today and I’ve now got to celebrate and think about logistics as the championship is tomorrow,” said Polly. “Maybe I will have to hitch a lift back.”
At home, 11-year-old Louis regularly hacks on the beach and goes out hunting. Preparation this week has been unusual for Polly: “I’ve had 10 days of poulticing and then a broken saddle, so not ideal. I’m glad I’ve taken part as I’ve had friends do SFAS and I wanted to as it’s always looked fun,” she added.
SFAS Working Show Pony
Welsh part-bred Senny Cymro — known as Charlie Pony at home — made his owner/rider Julie Carter’s dreams come true by winning their SFAS final.
“I bought him to help me get my confidence back, and it’s taken a huge amount of confidence to try SFAS,” said Julie, who works for Renishaw Engineering in Gloucestershire. “I’d always shown as a child and always wanted a black and white pony. I then decided to try SFAS. To now win, I feel like both of my dreams have come true.”
SFAS Show Hunter
Lucy Hopkins scored the final class of the competition on her own lightweight Chilly Breeze, a seven-year-old she bought two years ago.
“I sourced him from some very good friends of mine who had brought him over from Ireland as five-year-old,” explained Lucy, who hunts with the Wheatland and works as a stud groom for the Shropshire-based hunt.
“They kept insisting I went to see him, even though I didn’t think I wanted something so young.” Lucy initially bought Matty to hunt:
“I did some local showing and some people made some lovely comments about him,” added Lucy, who also juggles horses around being a mum to her three-year-old daughter. “People seemed to like him and he laps up the atmosphere. He’s actually a lot more cheerful when he’s away; at home he’s a very grumpy chap.”
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