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‘He’s the best thing you could ever sit on’: Irish Draught scores his second consecutive maxi cob of the year accolade


  • For the second time in a row, the unstoppable combination of Stephen Norris and David and Elizabeth Bury’s Lord Alexander (Alex) clinched the maxi cob of the year championship at the 2021 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).

    For the first time, the maxi cob championship was held in the HOYS International Arena. Finalists were treated to typically luxurious sashes kindly provided by class sponsors The Leeman Family.

    Alex, a 11-year-old Irish Draught by Gortlea Ruler out of The Star Of Athenry, was reclaiming the title he won in 2019.

    “We’re so thrilled with him,” said David. “He’s been a difficult horse and he needs a lot of work. But he’s got the right man in Stephen — I don’t think he’d be everybody’s horse. Today, he got it together at the right moment and really shone.”

    The Burys are based in Witney, Oxfordshire, and Stephen keeps Alex with him on livery in Dursley.

    Stephen and Alex have enjoyed a prolific career together, standing at the top of the line at all major shows. Earlier in the season they were second at the Royal International (RIHS). Outside of the show ring, Alex regularly hunts.

    “He takes producing,” confirmed Stephen. “For a cob, he’s so athletic and full of energy, though he’s the best thing you could ever sit on. His conformation is 99.9 out of a 100. He rides like a hack or a riding horse, and he’s never on his forehand.”

    Reserve went to Tina Billingsley aboard her own nine-year-old The Grey Goose. This was the cherry on top of a stellar 2021 for the duo, who second in the amateur maxi final at the RIHS in July.

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