‘The judges love or hate them’: Jayne Ross wins HOYS ladies’ title with ‘laid back’ coloured mare

  • Jayne Ross kicked off her 2023 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) campaign by lifting the Mears Flooring ladies’ side-saddle horse of the year championship with the coloured mare, KBF Lucia.

    Lucy and Diane Stennett’s six-year-old KBF Lucia, who is known at home as Poppy, was a winner here last year in open coloured ranks. Today, she was the ultimate professional in the HOYS main arena, despite having only competed three times side-ways previously.

    Poppy was bred by Tony Reynolds and Michael Cook, and she is by Free Spirit, the same sire as Jayne’s leading coloured star, 2022 Royal International ladies’ winner KBF Crescendo. Poppy is out of Seabourne Swansdown who is a relation to the horse who finished second in the 2023 HOYS ladies’ side-saddle final, Seabourne Silent Valley.

    “It’s hard with a coloured horse as judges either love them or hate them,” said Jayne. “They’re so in your face, so they have to be really, really good as they stand out and you’re always being noticed.

    “Last year Crescendo was unbeaten during the season in ladies’ classes, but unfortunately she didn’t make it to HOYS. So, we thought why not try her sister in a side-saddle and see what happens. And she’s totally stepped up. This mare has the most unbelievable temperament and she’s always giving me her all.”

    Standing outside the arena after her lap of honour, Poppy maintained her calm and collected disposition.

    “This was what she was like as a three-year-old,” Jayne said. “Just so laid back. She’s done three ladies’ classes prior to today, winning twice and finishing second once.”

    Jayne has won the ladies’ accolade at HOYS several times during her career. She secured her first title in the 1980s.

    “I was trying to count how many I’ve won over the years,” she said. “I must be getting very old!”

    Diane was also the owner of Jayne’s last fews HOYS side-saddle champions, 2017 and 2018 victor Time 2 Reflect, and Hello Dolly who took the crown in 2015 and 2016.

    It was a poignant moment for Francoise Babington who finished second on her own Seabourne Silent Valley (Marvin). The 15-year-old gelding, a two-time winner of this title in previous years, was making his final show ring appearance.

    “He’s going to enjoy life in the field, hacking out and helping lead my son’s pony,” said Francoise, who has home-produced the consistent lightweight this season. “Maybe he’ll teach the odd person to ride side-saddle, too.

    “He’s just been incredible. He’s won HOYS twice, and he’s finished second three times. He’s won every show I could dream of winning, including Hickstead and Windsor this year. It’s hard to know when to stop with them, but I feel that now is his time.”

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