SISTERS Sarah Walker and Vicky Hesford kept both placings in the cob of the year championship in the family at the 2021 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) on two lightweight contenders bought from the same yard.
Sarah’s winning ride was Lisa Davey’s 2021 Royal International (RIHS) champion Red Butler, a six-year-old who qualified at the North of England.
Reserve was Vicky and Tracey Veales’ Red Rock III, a nine-year-old coloured gelding, who won at HOYS in coloured ranks back in 2019.
Both horses and their sibling pilots placed first and second in the lightweight class.
Remarkably, both horses were sourced by their respective owners — who are coincidentally very good friends — from Val Sheehan and Camilla Neame, known in the industry for their knack for finding the best cobs on the circuit.
“What an awesome time that was,” said Sarah when she came out of the International Arena championship. Sarah has ridden “Jenson” to championships at both Staffordshire County and the BSHA National Championships since his victory at the RIHS. “Today, he rode well on the go-round and gave the judge a fantastic ride.”
Sarah’s last win at HOYS was in the coloured championship with Be Smart (Smartie).
“Smartie was always Rob (Walker’s) ride and I did the odd coloured class, but I’ve never won here on my own open horse,” said Sarah. “I stole Jenson from Rob after he’d done a few novices on him; I started riding him at home and never gave him back.”
This was Tracey’s first ever HOYS victory:
“This doesn’t happen to people like me,” said Tracey, who runs a haulage business. “I’ve been lucky enough to qualify for HOYS 11 times over the years with some lovely horses but the highest I’ve managed prior to today is eighth.”
Lisa bought Jenson from Val as a three-year-old:
“Val rang me and mentioned that he had a cob who might suit me; he told me that he’s unbroken and hairy but that I should come and see him in the raw. When I saw him trot across the arena I turned around and instantly shook Val’s hand.
“No other cob moves like Jenson. He’s been a superstar, however, I take no credit; it’s down to the Walker family and their efforts. Jenson and Sarah have such a partnership and it’s obvious they adore each other.
“Myself and Tracey are really good friends too; we’re two little old Cornish maids who are living the dream.”
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