AT the age of 55, with a grown-up family and five grandchildren, Joan McClure will be realising the ambition of a lifetime next week and competing at the Horse of the Year Show.
“I am getting a bit nervous now but I’m just going to go there and enjoy it. I might never get there again,” said Joan.
She will be riding her horse Willow in the large riding horse class. As a novice rider and owner, she will be competing against some of the top professionals who produce horses for this show, such as Robert Walker and Katie Jerram.
“I had to sell my horse when I married due to finances and time. I was 20 then and my husband kept to a promise he made at the time and I bought a horse again at the age of 40,” said Joan, who lives in Shafton near Barnsley.
She took up showing at local level and slowly improved. Joan bought Willow (Roseparks Silver Heights) as a four-year-old with the dream of qualifying for HOYS. “We travelled all over the country trying to qualify,” said Joan. “Willow is now eight and we qualified by winning at the Cheshire County Show in June. It was the last county show I’d booked in for, so it was my last chance.”
Joan says she does not expect to get into the top 10 or 15 at HOYS “but I will certainly enjoy every last minute of the experience.”
The South Essex Insurance Brokers Search for a Star championship gives amateur riders the chance to compete at HOYS and two Yorkshire riders recently qualified through this at Vale View in Leicestershire.
Jane Laurie, 48, from Huddersfield, came second in the Riding Horse Hack class to qualify, riding her horse Bozley. She described going to HOYS as a “miracle” after both horse and rider were out of action due to injury.
The horse was kicked in the field and on box rest for 12 weeks and when he came back into work, Jane had a bad fall, breaking two bones in her back.
“I even thought of giving up but we have worked together and now I think we have bonded as a team,” said Jane.
Tessa Nelson, from Malton, qualified in the Riding Club Show Horse class with her home-bred horse Blinkbonny Prince Harry. They qualified last year but were unable to compete as Harry went lame.
The pair also qualified for and competed at the Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead this year. “I have always wanted to ride at HOYS. It has been a long time coming but it is very special to do it on a horse I have bred myself,” said Tessa.
Also competing for the first time will be Heather Hume, from near Malton. She will ride her ex-racehorse Bond Playboy in the SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse Championship.
Heather earned her ticket to HOYS in the Racehorse to Riding Horse Show class at Burghley Horse Trials where she was runner-up. Bond Playboy won six races on the Flat during his racing career. Heather has owned him for the past 18 months and this is the first year she has competed in showing classes.
Heather’s daughter, Zoe, has qualified show ponies for HOYS but Heather thought she had left it rather late to get there herself. “I am so pleased to have qualified. It was always an ambition as a child when I used to compete in show-jumping classes and I always assumed would never happen now.”
Bond Playboy is one of three horses to have been in training with North Yorkshire trainer Bryan Smart which have qualified for the Racehorse to Riding Horse Show Championships.
Bryan’s wife, Vicky, will ride six-year-old Chivola. The pair have built a successful partnership in the show ring, winning the Tattersalls and RoR Championship at the Royal International Horse Show last year and taking third in the same class this year.
Vicky has also qualified Chivola for the open small hack class at HOYS.
Katie Jerram’s ride in the Racehorse to Riding Horse final, Night Prayers, was bought and trained by Bryan before going on to other owners. It was reserve champion at HOYS last year. Twelve ex-racehorses will compete in the final.
The Whitaker family will also be out in force at HOYS. Louise and George will join other members of the family after qualifying at Arena UK.
Michael, John, Robert and Ellen will also be competing in the international show-jumping classes.
Twilight looks ready to shine again for Cowgills on the biggest stage of all
AN outstanding show season will be topped off at the Horse of the Year Show for Nigel and Sue Cowgill’s home-bred three-year-old filly Hawlmark Classic Twighlight.
The part-bred Cleveland bay filly has qualified for the Cuddy Supreme in-hand Championship final after an exceptional year.
The filly is being shown this year by producer Peter Richmond, based close to the Cowgills near Ripon. Twilight has had numerous wins in hunter classes and has taken championships at Otley, Hambleton, Yorkshire Sporthorse, North Yorkshire County, Border Union and Nidderdale shows. She was champion part-bred Cleveland Bay and reserve Hunter Yougstock Champion at the Great Yorkshire Show.
At the Bucks County Show, Twilight was Hunter Youngstock Champion and won the Cuddy class, which guaranteed her a place at HOYS.
Twilight’s consistency was also recognised for the second year running by Sporthorse GB at the National Hunter Championships at Addington Manor, where she won the three-year-old Hunter Youngstock award. This is operated on a points based system covering all SHGB shows between May and August.
Sue Cowgill said: “We will start her ridden work after HOYS and get her out under saddle next year.”