The penultimate day at HOYS saw action ranging from 128cm ponies at one end of the scale to 7ft-plus jumping in the puissance at the other.
The evening finale saw 12 riders come forward to face the big red wall. By the third round, this had been whittled down to a field of six and, with the wall standing at 7ft1in and others, literally, falling by the wayside, only Ellen Whitaker and Ladina B could jump it cleanly to land them the class.
“It was really scary tonight because Ladina was a bit more wound up than usual,” said Ellen.
It was also a successful day for Nick Skelton who scored with Nemo 119 in the accumulator while Big Star, the stallion he hails as “the best horse I’ve ever had”, continued his domination of six-year-old titles by taking the HOYS championship. Appearing to relish the up-to-height track and electric atmosphere, the Quick Star stallion, guided by a determined Nick, cruised home to beat Laura Renwick (Parvati De Breve) by 0.36sec.
“He’s got huge amounts of scope, has a snaffle mouth and an unbelievable temperament,” said Nick, who has had the aptly-named bay for 18 months.
Peter Charles has an exciting young prospect in the eight-year-old Murka’s Nevada, scoring his first win in the Philip Billington Memorial Cup.
Ponies were back in action in the LG Arena on Saturday morning, with the 128cm championship going to the sole first round clear – Christie Pritchard riding her mother Tracey’s Grianagh Harley.
“I thought the course was big when I walked it – I was worried about the treble combination because it was long in and then you had to pull and hold to get the short stride out,” said the 12-year-old from Holyhead who has put the seal on a successful final season on 128cms before she moves up a height.
The 138cm equivalent was won by the bookies’ favourite – 13-year-old Darby Ward and More Than Milton, just 0.01sec faster than runner-up Jessica Mendoza (Dooneens Future Star).
“The first round was big and I didn’t think there would be too many clears,” said an ecstatic and emotional Darby who also had the seven-year-old My Bugsy Malone through to the five-horse jump-off. “Usually I am really nervous but my Mum was far worse than me today.”
Stay in touch with all the action from HOYS on Horseandhound.co.uk and don’t miss H&H’s 17-page special report, on sale next Thursday