Change of tack proves right decision as Stevey’s Lad prepares for HOYS

OSMOTHERLEY work rider Samantha Osborne was left searching for ideas when racehorse trainer and boss Phil Kirby admitted her gelding Stevey’s Lad wasn’t good enough to stay in his yard.

Osborne need not have worried – the nine-year-old having taken to showing like a duck to water and targeting national glory at the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) next weekend.

HOYS returns to Birmingham’s NEC next weekend with Osborne and Stevey’s Lad among those flying the flag for Yorkshire.

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The nine-year-old will be competing in the South Essex Insurance Brokers Racehorse to Riding Horse Championship and while Stevey’s Lad was the last to qualify for the event – at the Burghley Horse Trials no less – there is a strong suspicion he won’t be there to merely make up the numbers.

If the gelding were to succeed next weekend it would be something of a surprise given that the nine-year-old only swapped disciplines from racehorse to showhorse back in April. But the Yorkshire-based equine star has done nothing but surprise thus far with 24-year-old Osborne chomping at the bit to see what her unknown quantity can achieve down in the West Midlands.

“He’s only been in re-training since the end of April so it’s a big ask for him,” Osborne told the Yorkshire Post.

“But to be honest he’s surprised me with everything he has done so far.

“Literally, every show that I have taken him to so far whether it be a local one or obviously the Burghley qualifier when he qualified – he’s not let me down yet.

“So it’s fingers crossed for next weekend!”

Osborne will have actually two chances for glory at HOYS with the Osmotherley star having also qualified Kirsty Harris’s horse, Time Out, in the Hack and Large Intermediate Show Riding Type classes.

The popular Time Out will step down in class after HOYS with Osborne revealing she feels “honoured” to be riding him.

However, it is Stevey’s Lad who is closest to the Yorkshire rider’s heart – the HOYS surprise package owned in a partnership between Osborne and Castletown trainer Kirby.

Explaining how the transition from racehorse to showhorse occurred, Osborne added: “Phil said ‘it’s taking up one of my stables and it needs to do another job as it’s not going to be racing any more.’ But one day I went into work there and the horse’s head was over the door.

“I said ‘oh that’s pretty’ and thought it would be a good idea to try him at some local shows.

“We went to several local shows and he won every time and before we knew it we were putting him in a HOYS qualifier - then he ended up qualifying!”

Although now bidding to conquer all before her, primary school teacher Osborne says her charge has already done her proud simply by qualifying for HOYS.

“There will be an electric atmosphere at HOYS and all the horses that are there are there for a reason – because they are beautiful,” said Osborne, who has had horses since the age of just eight. I guess it just comes down to how the judge rides them at the show because you don’t know how they are going to go for that judge and you don’t know how they are going to go in the atmosphere.

“But for me, just to be there, I’m really proud of the horse and the horse is the best thing since sliced bread to me.

“I absolutely adore him and for him to get a rosette regardless of the placing would be just a dream really. He deserves it as he’s lovely. He tries so hard, he’s so genuine and sweet and he’s honestly the most lovely horse ever.

“He’s not like your average horse – he’s absolutely lovely. He’s one in a million and quite often I’ll go and have a glass of wine in the field with him as he’s like a friend.”

No surprise either if another glass is raised to Stevey’s Lad himself next weekend.

Also among those heading to HOYS next weekend is nine-year-old Isabella Worthington from Oakenshaw in Bradford.

The youngster has qualified for the Mountain and Moorland First Ridden on her pony Milford Mayfair who was bred by Mrs Money of the Milford stud in Ripon. Worthington qualified at The North of England show in July – part of a great season that has also featured wins at Otley, Ryedale, Bakewell, Newark and Notts and White Rose County.

Worthington also qualified for the Royal International horse show where she finished eighth.