Course designer David Coles revealed a new-look track for the Cuddy Working Hunter Of The Year Championship at HOYS yesterday (Tuesday 8 October), and it made for interesting viewing.
“For the first time I’ve completely changed it so that the distances are unrelated,” said David, who designed 12 fences, including two combinations. All except one of the fences caused penalties.
From 37 starters there were seven clears, including from the winner, Amy James, who successfully defended her 2013 title on Columbus Nimbus.
Nine horses knocked down one fence, which meant a total of 16 were brought back into the Andrew Bowens International Arena for the ridden/conformation phase.
The working hunter course fence by fence
Fence 1 This green oxer fell to the ground twice, and two horses refused it. One of these, the grey Bolero Greenfield, decanted his owner/rider Emma Stuart in the process and was eliminated.
Fence 2 A right-hand circle around one half of the arena brought horses to this upright decorated with thatched cottages, which two horses dislodged.
Fences 3 This rustic oxer with a brush underneath was on a straight line from the previous fence. One horse ran out and three had it down.
Fence 4ab A sweeping left-hand turn took horses to the first combination, a hanging gate with back rail at a and an upright at b. Most horses went on two strides and two kicked out the first part, while one dislodged the second. The John Roberts-owned Avanti, who we tipped for success in our HOYS preview, faulted at the latter under Michael Jones, who was standing in for usual rider Jack Cochrane.
Fence 5 This obstacle became one of the most influential. It was positioned at the end of the arena after horses had cantered past the exit and riders could choose from a line of three uprights, each with slim, wonky poles on top that fell easily.
Fence 6 A right curve took horses to the water tray, which only one combination, Cornwall’s Andrew Williams and the Phillips’s Bodieve Toyboy, knocked down.
Fence 7 This innocuous rustic oxer was dislodged by five horses as they lined up for the most influential question on the course, a combination at 8ab.
Fence 8ab This double of green brushes proved testing from the start, with eight of the first 10 horses being penalised here. Most went through on two strides, except Kelly Ward’s eight-year-old Grand Conan, who zoomed through clear on one. Both elements had a white pole on top and, with the lighting, it appeared difficult for horses to judge. Element a fell to the ground 12 times, including for Louise Bell on her first ride, W Get Smart, while six horses touched the second.
Fence 9 Riders steered left to another rustic oxer at nine, which fell five times.
Fence 10 Nicknamed ‘Stonehenge’, this unusual obstacle made from grey boulders required horses to jump across the arena and was the only fence that stayed upright all afternoon.
Fence 11 The home straight did not provide a chance for riders to relax, as this rustic oxer with a green filler, positioned so that horses jumped towards the crowd, fell for 10 riders and Southerly Roberts’s intermediate eventer, Tinx, refused.
Fence 12 Only one horse touched this white gate, which concluded the course.
Find out what the winner, Amy James, thought of the working hunter course in next week’s H&H HOYS report, on sale Thursday 16 October.