A host of seasoned combinations took to the International Arena at the 2019 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) today (2 October) to compete for the coveted crown of Cuddy working hunter horse of the year. The star-studded field included several previous Royal International Horse Show and HOYS winners, and the 39 entries provided a total of 12 clear rounds.
The up to-height-track consisted of 12 sizeable rustic obstacles — which were provided by Cheshire Show Services — and included two double combinations.
Each presented their own challenges and this year saw the introduction of two new obstacles, including a spooky thatched cottage and a windmill filler.
Course builder David Cole made use of the space with a flowing course, which provided competitors the chance to advance on style marks.
But do you think you could take on this championship challenge yourself? Let’s walk the course and find out…
This green oxer was a nice introduction for the horses and thankfully only two rounds were over before they had really started. This included Boherdeal Royale (Rosemary King) who also went on to knock the second fence before retiring at the fifth fence after a refusal which unseated Rosemary
This inviting white gate proved relatively un-problematic as only two horses knocked the second fence of the course
Bright flowers spooked very few but the line from the side of the arena didn’t suit every horse and a few pairings had it down
Action at this neat rustic upright was also limited and most of the horses cleared this fence.
The water tray — while made more inviting by the placement of greenery at the bottom — was the bogey fence of the course. There were typically a couple of stops here but they tended to come from horses who looked a little spooked by the atmosphere. Katy Green had an unlucky fall into the bottom of the tray from her own The Prof, who proceeded to take a spin solo around the arena. It was then a quick change out of soggy jods for Katy who had kicked off the clear rounds with her first-to-jump Vulcanite.
Another airy oxer which saw zero faults.
While seemingly a simple upright with small fillers, this three-pole fence was knocked by a couple of horses who perhaps weren’t quite focusing when turning onto the short side of the arena.
Riders had to quickly sit their horses up on the approach to the first double of the course. With three strides between the A and B elements, neither of the fences were fault-free but the narrow gated style found on the entrance caught more out than the three rail oxer behind.
This offset wall provided the most chatter during the course walk. The designers choice for leaving it open in a disjointed fashion required some navigation. Most took the middle part of the wall head on between the trees, but a few decided to nip over the inside section. A couple of horses, including 2018 champion Atlantic Slim, were not keen and slammed the breaks on while a small handful also knocked it down.
The second and final combination was this one-stride double which saw only a couple of faulters.
The pillars of straw acted as a guide into this penultimate fence, which was set off the corner. While arguably one of the most striking fences on the course, it was well received and only two pairs rolled this one.
This oxer completed the course. Riders could choose one of three options. The crowd were gutted for the Mel Hannah and her super-consistent gelding Anchorman, who rolled the top pole with the lightest of touch after an otherwise flawless round.