Being able to fill a stadium like at HOYS – and enjoy some kind of normality – is exciting for the sport, says Harriet Biddick
I THINK Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) has regained its atmosphere.
This is the show you grow up watching. I was lucky to watch John Whitaker and Michael Whitaker, Tim Stockdale and Guy Williams here in the past;
all the greats. It’s somewhere you aspire to be, in many disciplines, and it’s somewhere it is possible to get to, for so many riders.
I’d ridden here on ponies but never really done that well, then I was national champion in 2019, which qualified me for HOYS, and I won the big class the first evening on Galway Bay Jed, whom I rode in this year’s grand prix.
That was a feeling I’d never had before, and to come away with the purple winner’s rug was a huge bonus because those mean a lot to everyone.
That special atmosphere
You don’t get to ride in many places with this kind of atmosphere, and it’s been a great show this year. I think the commentators have done an amazing job and the Andrews Bowen surface is brilliant. The organisers have modernised the whole event, but without changing it.
What’s really helped is that everyone seems to want to be out and have a bit of normality again, and that’s what we’ve been lucky enough to have. It feels normal again, and that’s worth so much after the past 18 months.
The sport has been great, too. There have been some amazing jump-offs and the course-builders have done really well. The speed horse of the year class was a very exciting one; there were a few odd questions in the lines they built, but it was a real crowd-pleaser and I think even non-horsey people would have enjoyed it because it just got faster and faster.
Overall, it’s fantastic to be back. You can see how much effort has gone into running HOYS in such a tough year, and they’ve done an amazing job.
It also shows that as a country, we need these international events. It would be amazing to have more shows like this because we’ve missed them. And when you can fill a stadium like they have at HOYS, that’s exciting for us, and exciting for the sport.
- This exclusive column can also be read in H&H magazine, on sale Thursday 14 October
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