A rider who travelled all the way from Co. Mayo in western Ireland especially for the HOYS (Horse of the Year Show) Naylors Equestrian Puissance has won the class riding Citi Business.
Padraic Judge was the only rider to jump clear in the fourth and final round riding the 15-year-old by It’s The Business in what was both their first HOYS experience.
“I knew if I could jump clear in the first round, I should stand a chance of coming first or second,” said the 51-year-old, who buys and sells horses and ponies for a living. “I knew the biggest danger with my horse was him knocking one of the smaller fences in that initial round.”
They were the only pair to clear the 7ft (2metres 14cm) wall in front of a 10,000-strong crowd.
“The fist round started quite big so I never really saw it going to the full five rounds,” explained Padraic. “I knew I had to get my horse off the bridle around the corner approaching the wall and I needed to give him plenty of space on front of it to take off as he’s quite big and long,” he said of the 17.2hh, owned by Donnacha Anhold.
Padraic bought Citi Business as a four-year-old and produced him to grand prix level until selling him away to his current owner when he was 13.
“He went away for a couple of years, but he came back to me this summer,” explained Padraic. “I competed him to grand prix but he was sharp with too much going on in his head for that level — he’s a nervous gentleman. I’ve always thought he could be a Puissance horse though.”
The HOYS Puissance wasn’t always plan A for Padraic and ‘JJ’.
“We had hoped to get into the Puissance class at Dublin Horse Show but we didn’t quite make it, so JJ’s owner, Donnacha, called HOYS to see if we could compete here instead,” said Padraic. “Donnacha rang me and said ‘do you want to the good news or the bad news?’ and revealed that we were into HOYS — I wasn’t sure if that was good news or not at the time!”
Padraic now hopes to jump in this class at Olympia Horse Show in December.
“He’s a horse that would break his neck for you, but he’s not as fresh as he was two or three years ago due to his age, so I think if we jumped at Olympia that could be his last high level competition,” said Padraic.
Two British riders shared second place; last year’s winner Holly Smith (Quality Old Joker) and Louise Saywell (Dassler).
Read the full report from HOYS in the next issue of Horse & Hound (12 October).