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Docking is top driver at HOYS

Two of private driving’s most consistently successful partnerships fulfilled their ambitions at this year’s HOYS

Gary Docking – three-times reserve champion at the Horse of the Year Show – and Nicola Blandin claimed the most sought-after titles in the world of show driving at the NEC in Birmingham.

Gary finally took top billing this year in the Xerox Business Services Harness Horse of the Year with Mr and Mrs Roger Bass’s stylish 12-year-old Hackney, Tenderfield Black Shadow.

This is really the one I have most wanted to win,” said a delighted Gary. “It’s our fifth appearance in this championship and we were getting tired of letting outthe bridesmaid’s dress.”

Seven of the country’s top horse turnouts qualified through the summer to compete for the title. Each was inspected by judge Jane Brightwell before giving a three-minute show performance in front of Claudia Bunn – joint-chairman of the British Driving Society’s judges’ committee.

With 70% of the marks to allocate, Claudia said: “What put Gary on top was his excellent presentation and showmanship. He used the whole arena and each movement was clearlydefined and well executed.”

Claudia was also impressed with the reserve champions, last year’s winners Sealmaster Fire, Draught & Weatherseals’ Morgans, Thank-you Ovation and Thank-you Oh Wow, driven by coachman David Baker.

Pageboy is top pony

The Xerox Business Services Harness Pony of the Year went to Nicola Blandin with her enchanting palomino section B, Wharley Pageboy. Up against six other top pony turnouts, Wharley Pageboy was making his fourth appearance at HOYS.

Nicola had qualified him twice before as a single and once with his brother, Wharley Cadet, as a pair. The charismatic pony was in top form, leaving the judges in no doubt of his championship status.

“For me, he was truly the star of the evening,” said Claudia. “He has wonderful paces and is the model of a private driving pony. You just never tire of looking at him.”

The reserve position went to Elinor Steven’s charming and unusual tandem of Highland ponies, Murdoch Of Creag Dhubh and Sophie Of Srathmiglo, driven by Joyce Simpson.

Read the full report in this week’s Horse & Hound (24 October), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.

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