The winners of the Talent Seekers final two years ago returned to the Andrews Bowen international arena to claim the HOYS speed horse of the year title.
Jay Halim and Aragon Z pulled out all the stops on the technical CSI2* track to win by a fifth of a second from Holly Smith and Fruselli.
It was Jay’s first time competing in the international classes at the Horse of the Year Show.
“I’m very grateful to be here,” he said. “It’s always good to win on your home turf, and I feel like I’ve made the point I deserve to be here.
“I’m really proud of my horse; he won the Talent Seekers here two years ago, and it’s nice to cement the fact he’s the winner he is.”
The eye-catching 10-year-old Asca Z gelding, owned by Jay and Duncan Arthurs, showed his class throughout; the game little horse making nothing of the testing track.
An influential line was the turn from fence six to seven; those who had taken the longer route from fence five could make a right-angled four strides from the vertical to the oxer at seven, but the faster route put them into a place where it had to be five or six.
“I walked that distance and thought it was four, then I went six!” Jay said. “I had to go on what was there and he absolutely busted a gut to jump it for me.”
Jay is at HOYS without a groom, so he has “done all the bathing and plaiting myself”, with the help of his partner.
“He had a couple down in the accumulator yesterday, which isn’t like him, but it was because he hadn’t had a wee!” he said. “He was absolutely bursting when he got back to the stable; my groom would have realised he needed a wee but my partner, who’s a doctor, isn’t horsey at all.”
Jay said he had beaten Holly once before, when he won the grand prix on his HOYS speed horse of the year at Bolesworth last August, but “she’s beaten me more times!”
“So it’s good to have one against our Olympic rider,” he said.
“This horse is remarkable; you can put him in any environment — he hadn’t done an indoor show before here — and he doesn’t care.
“I’m very lucky to have him, he’s amazing.”
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