A self-confessed “horse hoarder” will be returning to HOYS in October after her Thoroughbred, Clonard Lad (Chester), won the SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse at Keysoe. Becky O’Neill, who runs a livery yard of 35 horses in Yorkshire, has had show cobs and riding horses for some years with producer Paul Langrick, but never intended to get a racehorse. However, when Chester came from Ireland to trainer Mike Sowersby, she went to see him race.
“It was Market Rasen in March 2015 and he really didn’t race very well,” she said. “I think he’d lost the heart. I fell in love with him the first time I saw him, though – he’s a beautiful boy and he’s never known badness.” Chester first went to the SEIB HOYS final in 2015 — which Becky admitted was a year too soon for him — and finished a creditable seventh. Last year, he was sixth and finished eighth in the large riding horses for good measure. He qualified for the same section at the Royal International on his first outing this season, though he won’t be forward at Hickstead, because it’s too far for the team to travel.
“We only do a handful of shows a year because I don’t want him to travel the length and breadth of the country just to qualify,” said Becky, who lives in Appleton Roebuck, near York. “We’ll go to Birmingham because it’s easy — plus HOYS is my holiday! I don’t really do holidays. I’m a single mum so it’s a lot of juggling. “It’s a lot of work for Paul too. He does all the driving and all the riding, and he had extensive spinal surgery last November,” she added, eager to give Chester’s rider the credit. “I have never come across a more dedicated or hard-working professional person, and never have I seen horses love somebody so much as they do him. He deserves more recognition than he gets.”
The second-placed SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse also goes to HOYS and this was debutant Mr Ooosh, owned by Baileys Horse Feeds and ridden by Lynn Russell. “He came out of training in June last year and was totally useless,” said Lynn. “He won more in showing and that says it all.”
The seven-year-old gelding, by Midnight Legend out of the Irish mare Blackbriery Thyne, was in training with Tom Symonds. He ran twice, without troubling the judges, in 2015. Hopefully, he’s found his niche with SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse.
1st Paul Langrick on Clonard Lad
2nd Lynn Russell on Mr Ooosh
3rd Rebecca Court on Beware Chalk Pit
4th Hannah Horton on What Of It
5th Claire Oliver on Grey Topper
6th Phillip Crighton on Morandi