The selectors had a hugely difficult task, with almost 200 video auditions received during the short audition period. As in series 1, the aim was to find riders of varying ages, from different parts of the country, who take part in a range of equestrian disciplines.
This year’s chosen candidates are:
Mead Jenkins, 18, from Buckinghamshire. Mead took up affiliated eventing three years ago, and has competed up to British Eventing Novice level. He works at a golf club but is currently completing his coaching exams with the hope of having a full-time career in the horse world. He’s bringing his Irish Sport Horse/Thoroughbred Derry, a six-year-old gelding who has evented at unaffiliated 100cm level.
Tina Wallace, 31, from Cornwall. Tina works in the motor trade, which funds her equestrian habit! She had riding lessons as a child but didn’t get her own horse until she was 26. She’s bringing Banksy, a skewbald Irish Sports Horse. They compete at BE90 level in eventing and hope to move up to BE100.
Victoria Brant, 30, from West Sussex. In the past Victoria has competed up to Novice level eventing, Elementary dressage and county level showing. Her horse Pat is a Thoroughbred/Irish Draught gelding. Victoria’s hopes for this year are that she and Pat will complete their first full season competing at British Eventing 90/100 level.
Kelly Seager, 36, from Suffolk. Kelly is a single mum of three, and has been riding for more than 20 years. She describes herself as an all-rounder, competing at BE80 level, competing up to Elementary affiliated and Medium level in unaffiliated dressage, riding at British Dressage Area Festivals and Regional Finals, and taking part in various Riding Club championships. She has owned Irish cob Flint for more than two years.
Hannah Sutch, 22, from East Sussex. Hannah is currently studying for a degree in Equine Management, while working part-time as a showjumping groom. She has competed in eventing, dressage and showjumping, and is bringing her Irish/Thoroughbred Andy.
Harry Swales, 30, from Wiltshire. Harry has returned to riding after a 10-year break, and describes himself as a ‘competent novice’. He is bringing his young grey mare Cleo, with whom he competes at low-level unaffiliated showjumping.
Ceri Davies, 38, from Northamptonshire. Ceri only took up riding 18 months ago, having loved horses all her life. She’s been busy making up for it since then, going to clinics, unaffiliated showjumping, hunter trials and cross-country with her chestnut ex-racehorse Chimbonda.
Ella Knight, 18, from Buckinghamshire. Ella juggles three jobs to pay for her passion for equestrianism. With her grey Warmblood Frosty, she competes in unaffiliated dressage and showjumping, and the pair has recently completed their first British Novice showjumping class. They also enjoy hacking, jumping and going cross-country, and hope to start eventing in the near future.
H&C’s Managing Director Richard Burdett, said:
“After the success of last year, we were gratified to have even more riders apply to be part of the second series of Blue Chip All Star Academy. This year’s contestants went to such an effort with their auditions, with some truly creative videos sent in. It made narrowing down the field an incredibly tough decision, but we think this year’s mix of contestants will make for brilliant viewing.”
The filming for this year’s Blue Chip All Star Academy takes place at the Talland School of Equitation in Gloucestershire. All eight chosen riders each receive a prize bundle worth more than £1,000, including kit from leading brands Blue Chip Feed, Airowear, Bucas, Carr & Day & Martin, Charles Owen, easibed, Equilibrium, Tri-Zone, Eurostar, Horseware Ireland, Micklem bridles, Mountain Horse, Rockfish and The Horse Bit Shop.
The eight contestants and their horses will take part in a number of riding, horse care and media challenges, gaining ‘rosettes’ for their performance throughout the training camp until one overall winner is crowned. This year’s winner gets a year’s sponsorship from Blue Chip Feed and the chance to co-present an episode of Rudall’s Round-Up with Jenny, while all eight finalists will be invited to join H&C’s All Star vlogging team and will appear on the channel regularly on The All Star Diaries programme.
Series 2 will premiere on Horse & Country TV at 9pm on Sunday 28 May. H&C broadcasts on Sky channel 253 and via H&C Play, where viewers can watch the channel on laptop, smartphone and tablet.