Robert Walker reclaimed the coveted Catplant Group of Companies Ltd. HOYS show hunter championship at the 2023 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) riding a lightweight.
Despite being an eight-year-old who Robert has had on his yard for four years, Jill Day’s MHS Morning Master (TJ) was contending his first HOYS as a ridden horse.
He has experienced the lights of Birmingham before, though, as in 2018 the then three-year-old, who was bred by the Brennans and is by Quidam, took the top spot in the horse section of the in-hand supreme final and finished reserve champion. Earlier that same year he stood champion three-year-old in Dublin.
TJ has been ultra-carefully produced by Robert and his team, and he’s only been promoted into open ranks this season as hunter supremo Robert had an opening.
“When View Point (Sean) retired after winning the supreme at HOYS last year, it was inevitable that TJ would step up,” said Robert, who won the HOYS hunter championship with View Point a staggering four times during their partnership. “TJ could have qualified for HOYS for the past few years, but we had Sean and we wanted to make sure he had his time.
“He’s always been a performer, a little operator who moves into his bridle. I remember him winning the four-year-olds at Royal Windsor and the judge said that he was the ride of the day.”
TJ’s connections, including Brian Murphy who showed TJ in Ireland, were ringside to watch his victory.
“He’s had the most unbelievable season, including winning the Royal Windsor hunter championship and finishing reserve at the RIHS,” continued Robert. “He’s Mr Reliable on the yard, too, which meant I slightly under did the warming up this morning!
“We always set ourselves up to have a bad week as we’ve been so lucky at the NEC in the past,” Robert added. “So, on Sunday night we took ourselves to celebrate the season we’ve had regardless of what happens this week.”
Robert has now won the HOYS show hunter championship seven times, including with Pride And Joy II, Caesars Palace II and Vantage Point.
This year’s reserve HOYS hunter champion was Lorraine Homer riding Liz Prowting’s grey middleweight Bloomfield Eloquence. The Watermill Swatch eight-year-old was repeating the exact results he achieved in 2021 as a six-year-old.
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