Saturday 17th of February 2024
Events

HOYS – the finale of a fantastic year

Since its conception in 1949, Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) has always held a special aura as the show to aim for. Over the next five days of competition, 1,600 horses and ponies and 1,500 competitors will descend on Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in hope of claiming the red rosette.

© E.S. Photography

© E.S. Photography

© E.S. Photography

© E.S. Photography

Nick Skelton © E.S. Photography

Nick Skelton © E.S. Photography

Cuddy Working Hunter © E.S. Photography

Cuddy Working Hunter © E.S. Photography

Show jumping, as one might expect, is one of the leading disciplines at the show and wraps up the national season in Britain. Expect to see the nation’s heroes as well as the up and coming stars. 

The Birmingham event is also an opportunity to celebrate our Olympic heroes with the legendary Nick Skelton and Big Star taking part in the HOYS finale on Sunday evening. Nick’s team mates John and Michael Whitaker will also be present to compete in the international classes. 

The Arbonne Dressage Future Elite Championship, in its fourth year at the show, has had numerous qualifying events throughout the year and Rio heroes Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester are expected to be taking part. 

For the showing competitors, who have also travelled miles throughout the season to capture the golden tickets, HOYS is the finale of a long season and an atmosphere of excitement prevails. Even the most experienced of competitors still feel their nerves as their horse boxes pull into the NEC’s tightly packed lorry park. 

Last year’s horse supreme victor, Jayne Ross, will be hoping for a third win in a row, this time on the lightweight show hunter Time 2 Reflect. Twice a supreme winner at the Royal International Horse Show, Diane Stennett’s nine year old mare finished second in their class behind Robert Walker and Vantage Point last year and will be hoping to go one better for a consecutive hat trick. 

Robert Walker will once again take a strong team of horses to the NEC, including the smart lightweight cob Randalstown Rolex. A former supreme winner with the big-winning heavyweight cob So Smart, it would be unwise to rule out Robert from winning a few more titles before the week has finished.

The Hood team, led by father and son Alistair and Oliver, have had a phenomenal season and won the cob and riding horse titles at the RIHS on Our Cashel Blue and Diamonds Are Forever. The latter, who first sprang to prominence when winning the riding horse championship at Windsor in 2013, has been given time to mature and this tactic could pay dividends at the end of season show.

The seven year old Our Cashel Blue won the coveted coloured horse title for Alistair and was recently crowned first day supreme at the British Show Horse Association (BSHA) Championships. Ever the consummate showman, Alistair always pulls out the stops in a highly pressured atmosphere. 

The showing pony classes at HOYS are equally as competitive and the classes, which range from show pony lead rein class to the mountain and moorland classes, showcase the finest combinations in the UK. Sarah Parker and the wonderful Welsh Section A Sarum Rembrandt shone under the spotlight to win the supreme pony title last year. Indeed, native ponies have an impeccable record in the supreme class, with three in the past four years winning the overall honour 

To ride down the centre line at HOYS is a dream come true for many competitors around the country, but for others simply qualifying and riding at the show is the opportunity of a lifetime. It is that time of the year where dreams come alive!

By Kitty Trice

 

 

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