Robert Walker’s Starry Night has been retired from the show ring after winning the Leeman family maxi-cob of the year championship at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) this afternoon (9 October).
Following their lap of honour Robert dismounted, ran his stirrups up and led Starry Night — known as “Basil” at home — out of the Caldene arena at Birmingham’s NEC to mark his retirement.
The 11-year-old gelding, who is owned by Camilla Neame and Val Sheenan, is well known for his “phenomenal” bone. He is no stranger to winning at HOYS having stood heavyweight cob champion five consecutive times between 2010 and 2014.
“I don’t think anyone will match him again,” said Robert. “His record speaks for itself. He’s very typey — a proper cob with a fistful of limb — and conformation judges just stand back and stare.
“He’s achieved so much during his career and he owes us nothing.”
Also a former cob champion at the Royal International (RIHS), Starry Night has claimed multiple titles during his glittering career. This was his first season contesting maxi-cob classes after measuring out in 2014. He took the title at Great Yorkshire Show and RIHS before entering the show ring at HOYS for the final time.
His exciting showdowns this season with Simon Reynolds’ Hallmark, who finished second to Basil this time, has raised the profile of maxi-cob classes.
“Two of the best cobs going head to head has done wonders for maxi-cobs — it’s given them a value,” added Robert.
Starry Night joined Robert’s Cheshire yard as a five-year-old after being spotted in Ireland by Val Sheenan and his wife Camilla Neame. Although Robert was immediately impressed by the horse’s conformation and ride, Basil had to overcome a clapping phobia. With the help of a CD of applause on loop in the yard, he did.
“Basil is big and strong and if he wants to go to the field or the haylage he will tow you there. But he’s a yard favourite — everyone loves him,” added Robert.
Don’t miss the full HOYS report in next week’s Horse & Hound, on sale 15 October.