Working hunter man of the minute Rory Gilsenan kept his spot at the top of the tree when he rode Atlantic Slim to stand Cuddy Working Hunter of the Year at the 2018 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).

The pair jumped one of seven clears over David Cole’s tight and testing set of rustic fences. They netted the highest style mark (19) of the class before impressing in the ride and conformation section to keep the number one position.

The testing up-to-height track had 12 obstacles including a horse shoe-shaped wall, wide oxers and an upright with water tray, which caught out several combinations. After the conformation and ride judging, just 10 combinations were invited back in the evening for the final decision.

Rebecca Collins’ nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Atlantic Slim gave Rory Gilsenan his first ever HOYS worker win.

“I’ve had lots of other placings over the years, but to win tonight is fabulous,” said Rory. “I was surprised how big the course was, but it was built to allow you to really ride forward like going across country. It took a lot of jumping and he [Atlantic Slim] put in a supreme effort. There was a real swing to the course, the surface was great to jump off and it was exciting.”

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Rory bought the horse as a five-year-old for his previous owner Katie Leatham. He has been with Rebecca for a year but, following a knee injury, it was decided Rory would take the ride at HOYS when they met at the Royal Three Counties Show where the horse qualified.

Taking second place was Paulette Cooper’s MJM Laszlo and Louise Lyons, while third went to last year’s winners, Red Why Salute and Danny Carroll.

For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday.

Read the full 2018 Horse of the Year Show report next Thursday (11 October) for all the showjumping, showing and dressage action.