‘His inner showman came out’: reigning HOYS heavy horse champion spotted enjoying a day out hunting

  • The reigning Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) ridden heavy horse of the year Cotebrook Sgurr Alasdair has proved he’s no one trick pony after he was spotted out on the hunting field just a few weeks after his glorious win at the NEC.

    Gemma Mcclorey’s Shire gelding, who is known at home as Big Al, turned heads when he headed out with the Pytchley for the first time.

    Al was bred by the late Allister King of Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre and Gemma bought him as a three-year-old. Gemma, who is a groom at Middleton Livery Yard, has hunted for several years, but it was her first time taking a Shire.

    Al won at HOYS in October under Will Morton, who qualified him at the National Shire Horse show. It was the third time the magnificent eight-year-old had been to the prestigious final.

    “He couldn’t attend in 2021 as he came down with a virus, and in 2022 I rode him to finish sixth,” explains Gemma, who also stood champion at Equifest with Al.

    Gemma says she decided to hunt Al after his big victory: “He was wrapped in cotton wool before the final, but I always said that if he took the title I’d let him have some fun.

    “He was so well behaved and he received lots of compliments on his manners. There are always quite a few riders clinging on for dear life out hunting, but I could ride Al on a nice loose contact as he lolloped along enjoying himself.

    “He stood like a rock, too. At one point I had a glass or port in one hand, a sausage in the other, and he just stood solid. He was very proud and his inner showman definitely came out on the hunt field.”

    At home, Gemma says Al is her “big pet”.

    “He’s like a Labrador,” she adds. “He doesn’t know his strength sometimes, but he’s the most perfect gentleman and he’s a pleasure to do.

    “He will do a little bit more hunting this season, as well as some dressage. He really does it all. I feel very lucky to have him.”

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