Simon Reynolds: They are few and far between *H&H subscribers*


  • Now that the dust has settled after the 2019 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS), I have noticed some derogatory comments on social media about how professionals win everything. I really didn’t see this as the case this year. Yes, we saw some record-breaking results, but we also saw a lot of home-produced triumphs — I counted 14 — which is fantastic. However, we must not take away from the record breakers.

    The show pony Rotherwood Rainmaker recorded his sixth win, admirably retiring at the top, as did Michelle Cuerden’s dual HOYS winner and 2019 coloured champion Del Boy, who was ridden by Vikki Smith.

    Vikki’s sister Amy and her pony Laburnum Richard also recorded their third HOYS win. Lead-rein pony Thistledown Van-Der-Vaart won his fifth mini mountain and moorland title, 153cm worker Cashel Bay JJ made it a sixth win and the riding horse Casino III gained a fourth small section victory.

    It is not a fluke for an animal to win HOYS this many times. We are talking about animals making history here and this should be celebrated. We’ve been lucky enough to produce animals that have won twice, three, four and six times. I look back and think just how lucky we were to have them — they are few and far between.

    HOYS does, however, often spring up surprises and there are always classes that don’t follow form. These are some of the most spectacular wins for those involved. Jasean Spraggett winning the lightweight hunters proved you should always go in to win, despite qualifying on a fifth placing. How wonderful.

    Silent heroes

    Jayne Ross recorded her seventh supreme win after tallying four championships in the week, but it’s often the unsung heroes behind the scenes that are forgotten.

    Groom Jo Powell from Team Ross walked 80 miles according to her Fitbit from Tuesday to Sunday. The amount of work and pressure is immense and this often goes unnoticed by the spectator. Therefore, when derogatory comments are posted, it can be disheartening for the teams that work so hard, not just that week, but throughout the whole season, trawling the country for their clients. Producing is not as easy and glamorous as people think.

    ‘Change is progress’

    As wonderful as HOYS is, I wish they would alter the gate opening times. We seem to say it every year. With the new restricted exercise times, it is near on impossible to get through vet check before 5am, collect passes, bridle numbers and complete a 5am to 5.20am exercise slot, especially with more than one animal. A lot of people were not in favour of the new exercise restrictions, and I think this needs altering.

    A great suggestion was to see the pony ring run from 9am until 9pm with evening performances. It was sad that some competitors were forced to buy £85 competitor wristbands for their families to spectate, as general admission is not open for the first classes. I’m sure HOYS will welcome these suggestions as change is progress.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 24 October 2019