The 2011 South Essex Insurance Brokers Search For A Star Championship qualifiers continued at Badgworth Arena, Somerset on 3rd July, attracting entries from far and wide to compete for the chance to attend The Horse Of The Year Show finals, held at the NEC Birmingham in October.


Working Hunter
1st, Suni Royal Regatta, owned by Catherine Tett and ridden by Hannah Mann of Shaldon, Devon

Riding Club Show Horse
1st, Shadows Pride, owned and ridden by Rebecca Tapp of Towcester, Northants
2nd He’s The Man, owned by Nicola Bond and ridden by Joanna Bond of Llandysul, Credigion

Show Hunter
1st, Masterclass III, owned and ridden by Vivien Jones of Torteval, Guernsey
2nd, Stradey Hanna, owned by Elizabeth Harries and ridden by Chloe Jones of Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire

1st, Wyld Amethyst, owned by Diane Shepherd and ridden by Emma Shepherd of Ormskirk, Lancs
2nd, Marlpoint Made To Measure, owned by Sally Williams and ridden by Lily Johnson of Buntingford, Herts

Riding Horse/Hack
1st, Listen To Me, owned and ridden by Maureen Aspinall of Tenbury Wells, Worcs
2nd, Hazard Away, owned and ridden by Jessica Billows of Plymouth, Devon

1st, Rockstar, owned by Paul and Hayley Isaac and ridden by Paul Isaac of Port Talbot, West Glamorgan
2nd, Banwy Charisma, owned by Peter Madeley and ridden by Alison Hutchings of Barnstaple, Devon

These are the winners of the classes but they may not all have qualified for Horse of the Year Show due to passport or other irregularities or at the judge’s discretion.

Badgworth Report
Well known and highly respected show judge, Richard Ramsay judged the Riding Horse/Hack, Cob, Ponies, Riding Club Show Horse, Show and Working Hunters and was assisted by ride judges Ian Smeeth and Matthew Maher Burns. “This competition gives amateurs the chance to compete at HOYS, a dream which many riders would love to realise. There was a positive yet competitive atmosphere in all of the classes and the standard of horses and turnout was excellent”, commented Richard.

Working Hunter
The South Essex Insurance Broker’s Search For A Star qualifier at Badgworth on 3rd July got off to a slow start with a disappointingly low entry in the Working Hunter class. Just 2 horses jumped and only one completed the course but in order to claim the top spot, Catherine Tett’s Suni Royal Regatta, ridden by 19 year old Hannah Mann, still had to be assessed on conformation and ride by the judges, Richard Ramsey and Ian Smeeth respectively. The 11 year old bay gelding, known as Henry, is by the local stallion Ashton Show Time and was bred by owner Catherine Tett out of her own mare. She also still owns Henry’s full sister and half brother. Broken by Catherine and ridden by her in riding club events, he is now partnered by Hannah and the pair competes in Pony Club events and working hunter competitions as well as unaffiliated show jumping.

Riding Club Show Horse
Eleven horses came forward for the more popular Riding Club Show Horse class, which required competitors to complete trotting poles and two jumps before being judged for ride and conformation. After the jumping phase, 7 horses remained for the final judging and Becky Tapp was the deserving winner riding her own Shadows Pride. “He is an absolute superstar, one in a million. He does everything – hunts, team chases – but this is only our first proper season showing. We nearly lost him in April with a bad bout of colic and he was at the vets in Newmarket for 4 days, but thankfully he did not need surgery in the end” said a joyful Becky. A friend had encouraged her to have a go at Search for a Star and the pair came 4th at the Bury Farm qualifier a few weeks earlier. “We did our homework and came back for another go. It just goes to show it pays to listen to the judges”, said Becky, who works full time as a car mechanic for the family business near Towcester. “It was our aim to do SFAS and to qualify for HOYS, but it is still a dream come true as I never thought we would get through. I get lots of help and support from Mum and Dad – it is a team effort. I am so excited!” she added. The pair have also qualified for the Amateur Show Horse class at the National Championships and the Royal London in the Riding Horse class, which will be good preparation for HOYS.

Second place went to Joanna Bond, riding her cousin Nicola Bond’s He’s The Man. Nicola has owned the 7 year old Welsh partbred since he was a foal, having been given his dam to look after. “When the foal was born they gave him to me as a thank you for looking after the mare during her pregnancy”, explained Nicola. He was backed when he was 2 ½ years old and then turned away to mature. When Joanna needed a horse to hunt with the West Wales Farmers Bloodhounds, “H” as he is known at home, by then a 4 year old, was brought into work. He proved a lovely hunter doing everything that was asked of him. Joanne then had a bad fall riding another horse and broke her shoulder which had to be pinned and plated and meant that “H” had a full season off. They started again last summer and came 5th in the working hunter pony at the Royal Welsh show, and reserve champion welsh partbred at the Welsh Nationals at Malvern. This year they have competed at local shows and prepared for the Search For A Star qualifier by standing reserve champion hunter at their local hunt show the day before. They arrived at Badgworth planning to do the Working Hunter but missed the class and transferred to the Riding Club Show Horse. “To do this is just, WOW. It has been an emotional rollercoaster and I didn’t know much about this class. I am flabbergasted!” said Joanne, who works as a van driver. “I saw the report in a local magazine of another welsh rider who won SFAS last year and I thought it would be good for the experience and the opportunity to listen to the judges advice, so we gave it a shot”. The pair will do the workers at the Welsh Nationals at Malvern and also the Welsh Partbred class at the Welsh Pony and Cob Society International show which is hosted annually throughout Europe and is being hosted in Britain this year, before heading to Birmingham for HOYS.

Show Hunter
The Show Hunter class had good entries and an international atmosphere with competitors from England and Wales but Vivian Jones and her 9 year old Masterclass III made the trip from Guernsey worthwhile with a win and HOYS qualification. Known as “Herbie”, the horse was bred in Ireland and Vivian bought him as a just backed 4 year old to bring on and do dressage, which has been their main focus for the past 4 years. The pair came second in the Trailblazers Preliminary Championships and he was champion Dressage Horse at the Guernsey Dressage championships for the past 4 years. As a self-confessed OAP this was no light undertaking but Vivian has done a lovely job in producing the horse. “He is so easy and so good. He lives at home and is lovely to do. So long as I don’t hassle him he just says ok”, she says. They have done local shows in Guernsey and he has been supreme hunter 3 times and the judge suggested he could be shown in England. Making the 3 ½ hour journey by boat worthwhile, they combined the trip with the Sparsholt Dressage Festival the following week and will also take part in the Pet Plan Area Festival and a 3 day dressage competition back home before heading for HOYS. “Ever since I was a little girl of 5 I have always loved watching showing and dreamed of HOYS, but it is only since I have had Herbie that I decided to have a go, and it was mainly to give him a break from dressage!”, she said.

Second place went to Stradey Hanna, ridden by Chloe Jones. This chestnut mare by Touch Of Pride is owned and bred by Elizabeth Harries and was successful in-hand standing reserve supreme hunter and young stock champion at the Royal Welsh last year. She was broken in by Chloe and came out under saddle this year, taking the supreme hunter title at Aberystwyth, third in the 4 year old hunter class at the Bath & West and second at the Three Counties. “She is a lovely mare, a delight to do. She does lots of hacking and regularly goes to the beach which is only 15 minutes away from home. She has a ‘keep calm’ companion called Lollipop who is a miniature Shetland and travels everywhere with us”, explained Chloe, who works full time as a legal secretary with Red Kite Law in Carmarthen and fits in doing the horses around her job. Encouraged and helped by her mother, Chloe has always loved showing and has mainly been involved with M&Ms and show hunter ponies but never made it to HOYS. “We have always done everything ourselves and kept the horses at home. Hanna is easy to do and not an idiot at all. This is a lifetime ambition!” added Chloe. The pair will compete at the Royal Welsh and Hannah will have a little holiday before HOYS.

The ponies class saw a strong performance by Diane Shepherd’s Wild Amethyst, ridden by 15 year old Emma Shepherd to take the top spot. The 8 year old mare showed no sign of the mischief that saw them drop from top to 6th at the Osbaldeston qualifier and Emma was delighted with their best result to date in just their second season showing. “We bought her just backed 2 years ago and Emma has done all the work on him. Last year they did 14.2hh Show Pony classes but the mare grew and now we are doing intermediates”, said Diane. “After Osbaldeston we planned to go to Bury Farm but she was lame with a bruised foot and so we transferred to Badgworth. It was a long way to go but it was worth it – this means everything!” said Emma, who is at college taking a young apprenticeship in hairdressing. The pair will compete at Equifest and Ponies UK later this summer before heading to HOYS.

Second place went to Sally Williams’ Hunter Pony, Marlpoint Made To Measure, ridden by her daughter, 12 year old Lily Johnson. Sally bought the 9 year old gelding, known as “Harry” at home, 18 months ago with the aiming of doing showing classes. “We qualified for the BSPS championships but this is the best. I am so happy, it is amazing!” said Lily, who is a student at the Ralf Sadleir School in Hertfordshire. The pair will go to Equifest and the BSPS Summer Championships before heading to HOYS.

Riding Horse/Hack
Having finished a creditable 4th in the open Racehorse to Riding Horse class earlier, Maureen Aspinall achieved her dream with her own ex-racehorse, Listen To Me, taking the top spot in the Riding Horse Hack class. Maureen has owned the 9 year old grey, whose stable name is Murphy, since he was a 4 year old having bought him to hack. With eight children, Maureen was a full time mother and there was no time but now that they are older she is able to start competing again. “We came to Badgworth last year and it was probably my first show for 30 years!” laughed Maureen. But the judge commented on what a nice horse Murphy was and that inspired them to go on. They won the home produced class at the Grass Roots show at Addington and have also done some eventing, winning the BE80 at Aston under Wychwood. “He is a real family horse and has a fabulous character but he does have his moments! I didn’t know he had any potential as a show horse until last year, but after the encouragement I received it became our aim to get to HOYS!”, said a delighted Maureen.

Nine came forward for the final class of the day with the top spot going to Paul and Hayley Isaac’s 7 year old coloured cob , Rockstar, ridden by Paul Issac. Having ridden when he was younger and been part of the working hunter pony welsh team, Paul had given up riding to set up his business as a self employed shop fitter in Port Talbot and had not competed for 15 years. But when he and Hayley saw the piebald cob it prompted him to get back in the saddle. They were looking for a horse to show and bought the horse, known at home as “Woody”, from Ireland 2 years ago. He had done nothing before they got him and they wanted to aim for working cob classes. He won at Four Winds as a Novice and was third in the Novice Cob at Bath and West. The pair aim to do more working cob and flat classes this season to prepare for HOYS.

Second place went to Banwy Charisma, owned by Peter Madeley and ridden by Alison Hutchings. Known as “the Cob”, he had previously belonged to a neighbour but he had got very cheeky and so Ali took him on two years ago. She explained, “After a bit of “boot camp”, he soon learned what was right and now he is very sweet and goes hunting, show jumping and does local Pony Club shows”. He won the cob class and championship at Knowstone Show and again took the championship at Bideford Riding Club Show, as well as winning unaffiliated show jumping with Ali’s daughter, Nancy. “He is so good now that he has a proper job to do. He likes to show off and so we thought it would be great fun to have a go at SFAS. I can’t believe we have qualified!” said Ali, who does shift work for Devon Doctors On Call, allowing her to do the horses in the day time. The pair will compete at North Devon and Honiton before heading for HOYS.

The South Essex Insurance Brokers Search For A Star Championship and Racehorse to Riding Horse Championship finals will be held at the Horse Of The Year Show, 4th – 9th October 2011, at NEC, Birmingham.