In an extraordinary turn of events, the results from Wednesday’s hack judging at the 2021 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) were repeated in the intermediate show riding type of the year championship, with large winner Forgelands Hyde Park (Will) scoring the accolade over top small Parkgate Royal Visit William.
In the hack reckoning, Will — also hack champion here in 2019 with Jayne Ross — was ridden by his producer of just two months Danielle Heath. His owner Issy Mears jumped aboard for the intermediates, where she kept her cool and delivered a stunning display in both the class and championship to achieve her first ever HOYS centre line moment. Issy has only ridden Will in the ring once prior to HOYS, at Stoneleigh Horse Show where they qualified.
“We bought him in August,” said Issy. “To come and win two titles is unbelievable. He’s so easy to do and he loves his job. The minute he gets in the ring he’s like ‘leave it to me, you just sit there and look pretty’.”
Issy had always admired Will, a Kilvington Scoundrel 10-year-old, on the circuit when he was based with Jayne Ross and then Robert Walker.
“I’ve always loved him and admittedly stalked his previous owners for ages until they sold him,” Issy said. “This is my first HOYS win and championship and I’ve been coming here for 10 years.”
This was producer Danielle’s third win of HOYS 2021:
“Issy deserves it,” said Danielle. “She’s moved up the ranks and she’s given it her all. She’s been with me for five years now and her confidence has grown each year, and as she’s got more confident we’ve been able to upgrade the horse. To end up with a horse like Will is a dream come true.”
Danielle can only compare Will’s ride to that given by her legendary hunter Oathill Take The Biscuit, a former double winner of the hunter of the year tri-colour.
“The only horse who felt like Will did (on Wednesday) was “Hovis”; he gave me that sensible, loving-every-minute-of-it feeling. And when you get a horse of this calibre you know he deserves it. This is the first time I’ve won HOYS in five years and now we’ve got three in one year; like buses, none come around for ages and then they come all at once.
“I’ve had the hunter and riding horse championships here, but never the hack, so I might allow myself to retire when I’ve had them all.”
Aimbry Chester 11-year-old Parkgate Royal Visit William, intermediate champion here in 2017 with Emma Dewhurst, was ridden to perfection by Zara Brookes into reserve. His producer Robert Walker was in the saddle during the hack championship.
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