More Fell and Dales ponies will be able to qualify for this year’s Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) in October following the news that the breeds will contest their own individual mountain and moorland (M&M) finals at the show.
Fell and Dales ponies have competed together at HOYS since the Highlands were awarded their own breed final in 2011.
HOYS organiser Grandstand Media said this “exciting development” has come about as a result of “ongoing collaboration between Grandstand Media Ltd and the showing societies”.
“This will allow each of these breeds to see a higher minimum number represented at the final,” said a spokesman for Grandstand, which will also be making alterations to the format to some of the qualifiers due to take place this season.
“All eyes will be on the M&M large breed qualifiers as we see an increase in the amount of individual qualifying opportunities for the Fell, Dales, New Forest and Highland ponies, by opening out one of the combined classes to now be individual breed qualifiers.”
Enthusiasts of these large breeds have been pushing for separate finals and qualifying fixtures for several years, which is in line with other breeds such as the Welsh and the Connemaras, who have their own respective classes throughout the term and at the NEC.
The qualifying season will commence in March 2019...
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Event director Emma Williams said: “As host of the most prestigious national showing championships, we have listened to feedback and are delighted to have responded to such popular demand by amending the qualifying opportunities for these native breeds and seeing both the Fell and Dales breed individually have their moment at HOYS.
“This move is part of Grandstand Media’s long-term commitment to see each individual native breed represented with their own championship at HOYS. We always value feedback from competitors and societies and each year we evaluate the number of animals coming forward so that we can allow the show to continue to move forward and expand. Our continued work with the showing societies is fundamental to improve showing for all, and we are proud to be supporting the initiatives which they are implementing for the upcoming season.”