Working Hunter
1st, Mystic Spot The Dot, owned and ridden by Rebecca Lowe of Newmarket, Suffolk

2nd, Teeton Solstice, owned by Mrs Joan Tice and ridden by Emma Graham of Teeton, Northants

Riding Club Show Horse
1st, Tuesday Cruising, owned and ridden by Amy Dixon of Kendal, Cumbria

2nd, Sambuca B, owned and ridden by Natalie Barlow or Kettering, Northants

Riding Horse/Hack
1st, Bally Dun Again, owned and ridden by Julie Devey of Alcester, Warwickshire

2nd, Astrobrava, owned and ridden by Rebecca Lowe of Newmarket, Suffolk

Show Hunter
1st, Vantage Point, owned and ridden by Chloe Ribbon of Glossop, Derbyshire

2nd, Simply Flagmount, owned by Mr and Mrs Ashley King and ridden by Phillip Burton of Staverton, Northants

Show Cob/Maxi Cob
1st Heatherdale Saraid, owned and ridden by Kay Ainsworth of Bacup, Lancashire

2nd, Athlones Champion, owned by Dr John Outhwaite and ridden by Melanie Pritchard of Banbury, Oxon

Show Pony/Show Hunter Pony
1st, Stanley Grange Regal Request, owned by Monique Drabble and ridden by Eve Duggan

2nd, Fairley Katrina, owned by Mr and Mrs Robert Wilkinson and ridden by Jazzmin Wilkinson


The second South Essex Insurance Brokers (SEIB) Search For A Star qualifier took place at Onley Grounds Equestrian Centre on Sunday 19th May. This new venue saw a good entry and some super quality horses come forward, giving regular judges, Richard Ramsay (conformation) and David Bartram (ride) plenty to think about. Following the SEIB ethos of encouraging new blood, the judges were joined by probationary judge, Jordan Cook, who launched his career in showing through Search For A Star when he won and went on to take the Supreme Championship at HOYS with is own Hack, Fleetwater Xecutive, in 2007, and now rides professionally and is training to become a judge.

Working Hunter
10 entries tackled the rustic course in the first class of the day and 5 clears went forward to the final judging. First place went to the aptly named Mystic Spot The Dot, owned and ridden by Rebecca Lowe, 26, from Newmarket. Rebecca has owned the 17 year old appaloosa gelding for 12 years and originally bought him to do dressage. “I soon realised he had a good jump and so we have done mainly show jumping and hunting”, said Rebecca, a qualified farrier working in Newmarket. “Milan” as he is known at home, was lent to Rebecca’s cousin for 3 years while she did her farriery apprenticeship, and she got him back 2 years ago. The pair have done a bit of everything and competed in show jumping, dressage and one day events as well as hunting in the winter time. Then disaster struck a year ago when Milan was kicked in the field and fractured the radius bone in his leg. “He had to have 3 months box rest and then I brought him back into work very slowly. He only jumped for the first time 3 weeks ago and this is his first outing since the injury”, explained Rebecca, who also owns a thoroughbred ex racehorse. She was attracted to showing after listening to a talk by Katie Jerram about retrained racehorses at the National Stud. “I was inspired to have ago at showing and did some county shows. I thought Search For A Star would be a perfect way to start out. I brought my other horse for the Hack class and the Racehorse to Riding Horse class, so I thought I might as well bring Milan for an outing”, she said. “He thoroughly surprised me today and jumped brilliantly. He is very respectful and went well for the judge. I am really chuffed, it can’t get any better! I thought he was at the end of his career, but now he seems to be starting a new one”, she added. Rebecca has to work long hours but manages to fit her work around her horses. “My clients are very enthusiastic about what I do and very supportive”. Rebecca also gets a great deal of support from friends Ashley Jarvis, Christopher Powell and Lisa. “They were all up at 3.30am this morning to get him ready for the show, they are always a great help! said Rebecca.

Second place went to Teeton Solstice, owned by Mrs Joan Tice and ridden by Emma Graham. The 12 year old chestnut gelding, by the thoroughbred stallion, Shattered Peace, was bred by Joan Tice out of a good hunter mare, and when it came time to back him she asked Emma if she would like to help out. “I have ridden horses for Mrs Tice since I was 8 years old and I am very lucky to have him”, said Emma, who has done everything with him since then including eventing, hunting and team chasing. Emma works as a Physiotherapist and has two children aged 10 and 11, so she has to fit in riding “Solly” around work and family. “This is our first showing show and we have events all summer”, said Emma.

Riding club Show Horse
11 horses tackled the trotting poles and two fences before the final judging. First place went to Tuesday Cruising, owned and ridden by Amy Dixon from Kendal, Cumbria. Amy, 29, has owned the 8 year old grey mare for 2 years and bought her to replace her old event horse on whom she won the 2009 SEIB Riding Club Horse Trials at Offchurch, and then won the Badminton Grassroots in 2010 and is now doing dressage. “Ruby” is competing at eventing at BE100 level, but Amy had always wanted to get to HOYS and decided to come along to SFAS just to have a go. “Getting to HOYS is every little girl’s dream, but it is not possible through eventing. This was a chance to have a go”, said a delighted Amy. “Ruby was quite quirky when I got her, and for the first 12 months she just gained in confidence and her own ability. I am an adrenalin junky really and love cross country but this is amazing opportunity to go to HOYS. And it is great for her – everywhere we go she just gets better and better. We did the Working Hunter at Osbaldeston (previous SFAS qualifier) and although we did not get great style marks she did get the top ride mark, that was just the cherry on the cake and showed that all the hard work we had put in had resulted in having a horse that was nice for someone else to ride. So then I decided to come here and have another go”, explained Amy. The pair now plan to do more eventing before preparing for HOYS. “I would like to qualify her for the Badminton Grass Roots, and it I can qualify early then I can concentrate on trying to put some condition on her ready for HOYS. This is about the opportunity and experience of going to HOYS”. Ruby was bred Joe Howard of Garstang but had been sold on several times before Amy bought her from Scotland. “It is like she has come home to hear where she was born”, said Amy.

Second place went to Sambuca B, owned and ridden by Natalie Barlow, 37, from Kettering. Natalie has owned the 6 year old coloured gelding for 8 months. “He is a Bavarian warmblood and was bred for show jumping and dressage. His grandsire is a well known stallion called Samba”, explained Natalie. The pair have competed in dressage up to prelim level, and show jumping and did their first cross country competition recently. “I used to event and do dressage with my old horse before I had children”. Some encouraging comments from her riding instructor persuaded Natalie to have a go at showing and they were successful at their first local show, coming first in her class and winning the championship. “This is a massive learning curve. I knew we did not have the correct jacket and so I went to see Jo Bates who gave me some advice on what to wear and preparation for the show”, explained Natalie, who works as a Mortgage and Financial Advisor. Natalie plans to do more dressage and showing in preparation for HOYS. “I like it that SFAS is for Amateurs, it is so friendly”, she said.

Riding Horse/Hack
16 horses came forward for judging and first place went to the lovely dun riding horse, Bally Dun Again, owned and ridden by Julie Devey of Alcester, Warwickshire. Julie has owned the 10 year old gelding, by the Connemara stallion Templebreedy Fea Bui out of an IDxTB mare, since October and bought him to do everything. “Everyone said we should have a go at showing”, said Julie, who has evented Bally Dun Again, stable name Oliver, to pre-novice level. This was only their third show and they had been building up to the win, having finished third in the Grassroots show at Addington and second in the riding horse class here at Onley Grounds. “I can’t believe we have qualified for HOYS, now the fear is starting to creep in!” said Julie, who keeps Oliver at home and was helped at the event by friends Bev Stevens and Vicky Wraight. “We came along for a day out and a picnic and now we get to go to HOYS”, enthused Bev. Julie, who works part time in an equine veterinary practice, has ridden horses for many years and her father was a racehorse trainer.

Second place went to the Hack, Astro Brava, owned and ridden by Rebecca Lowe who also took first place with her other horse in the working hunter this morning. This means that Rebecca will have to decide which horse to take to HOYS as the rules only allow one Search For A Star entry at the final. Rebecca has known the 7 year old chestnut mare since she trimmed her hooves as a yearling in the race yard where she was working. “She raced but she was not successful and when they were looking to re-home her I took her on”, explained Rebecca. “I can do anything with her now. She hacks out and is not at all worried about being on her own”, said Rebecca, who took her eventing when she first came out of racing. “Then she stood on a nail in the field last year and had to have 9 months off. I started riding her again in January”, she said. Astro Brava, known as Ginger at home, is by Fal Brav, out of Nutmeg and was in training with Mark Tompkins and owned by the renowned tarot card reader, Mystic Meg, at that time. He was gifted to Rebecca when he retired from racing.

A good entry of 17 came before the judges in the hunter class, and first place went to the 17hh Vantage Point, owned and ridden by 15 year old Chloe Ribbon of Glossop, Derbyshire. The 9 year old bay gelding, whose stable name is Hector, has Clover Hill bloodlines and Chloe has had him for 8 months having bought him to do showing. Her previous pony was a 13.1hh show jumping pony that she competed at local level before making the massive jump to Hector, who is a gentle giant by comparison. The pair have done 5 shows so far this season. “We came 3rd at Osbaldeston and just missed out on qualifying for HOYS, so we decided to come back for another go”, said Chloe, who is in her first season showing. “I want to do more shows to get more experience, and would like to do some working hunter classes”, she said. “It has always been my dream to get to HOYS, but I never thought I would actually get there”, she added. Hector is kept on DIY livery and Chloe, who is studying for GCSEs at St Philip Howard School, Glossop, does everything looking after him herself.

Second place went to Ashley and Susan King’s Simply Flagmount, ridden by Phillip Burton. The 6 year old grey, whose stable name is Murphy, was bought from Ireland as a hunter for Ashley last October. “He was not in the best of condition and was very green and gangly”, explained Ashley. However the bad weather during the last hunting season meant that he was only lightly hunted and this gave him a chance to grow into himself. “This is his first time out, in fact this is a first time competing at a show for all of us”, said Ashley, who hunts regularly with the Pychley, the Bicester and the Grafton and lives at Staverton, just a few miles from the Onley Grounds venue. “Because we are all so novice, we thought SFAS would be a good place start and this venue was only just down the road”, said Phillip, who also hunts regularly and agreed to ride Murphy at his first show. “I can’t believe that we have qualified for Horse of the Year Show, I am absolutely gobsmacked. We need to get him fit and do more shows to get some practice before HOYS”, added Ashley, who was already planning to celebrate with champagne and an Indian meal.

Another strong class saw 8 cobs come forward for the ridden show cob/maxi cob class, and first place went to Heatherdale Saraid, owned and ridden by Kay Ainsworth of Rossendale, Lancashire. Kay has owned the 6 year old grey mare, a pure bred Irish Draft whose stable name is “Molly”, since she was a two year old and backed her and brought her on herself. “When we first got her we decided to put her in foal so she went straight to the stallion, but the vet said that she had not taken. It was much later when she did not seem to be getting as fit as she should when we realised that she was actually in foal and soon after she produced a lovely filly, Bella, who we still have at home”, explained Kay. Molly won the Snowford Breeding Champion of Great Britain as a 3 year old brood mare, the highest accolade in the Irish Draft breeding world, and has won numerous in-hand titles with Kay’s husband, Mac. Kay started riding her last year and they have been successful in ridden draft classes including first and champion at the Hambledon ridden draft breed show. “We also went to the Irish Draft Championships and finished in the top 10 out of 40 finalists and went into the evening performance, which was quite an achievement for a 5 year old”, said Kay. Just the day before the SFAS qualifier, the pair won the Ridden Draft class and championship at Otley Show in Yorkshire. “This is the first time we have had a go at the ridden cobs class and we wanted to have a go at SFAS – the carrot was the chance to compete at HOYS. Everyone wants to qualify for HOYS and it is a great chance to promote the breed”, said Mac. Molly was bred by Kay Chapman at the Heatherdale Stud in Derbyshire and is by the ID stallion, Connaught Grey. “I was looking for a 3 year old gelding and ended up with a 2 year old filly – but I would not swop her for the world”, said Kay, who works full time for IT Company, Northgate Information Solutions. “I have to do a lot of travelling but everyone mucks in to look after the horses. Our neighbour is Jacqui Clayton who won the Workers at Osbaldeston SFAS, so maybe we will be going to HOYS together”, she added. Kay and Molly will do more Novice and Open Cob classes and aim to compete at the Great Yorkshire show before heading to HOYS.

Second place went to Athlones Champion, owned by Dr John Outhwaite and ridden by Melanie Pritchard of Banbury, Oxon. John has owned the 11 year old bay gelding, who he affectionately calls “Barrel”, for about 6 years having bought him to hunt with the Heythrop. Melanie, who helps out part time with John’s 3 hunters, started to show him last season and, after deciding to hog his mane, he had several wins at local shows and came second at Royal London Show. This year the pair competed at the Grassroots Show at Addington, coming 2nd in the Maxi Cob class and winning the Grassroots training class. “We have qualified for the National finals so will be going back for those”, said Melanie. John’s wife had heard about SFAS and suggested that they have a go, and the Onley Grounds qualifier was only 45 minutes from home. “He was really lazy when he was younger but the showing has really helped. He has gained in confidence and become a more confident hunter. He likes 1 on 1 attention and can be a bit jealous of other horses but he has grown up no end. He knows he is a superstar!”, said Melanie. The pair aim to compete at some British Show Horse Association shows as well as trying to qualify for the Royal London and Trailblazers finals before heading to HOYS. “I am feeling nervous already. I hoped we might qualify but didn’t really think it would happen. I got some really good pointers from the judges, and I plan to get some lessons and some advice from Jo Bates to brush up before HOYS”, said an excited Melanie. “My friends are booking their tickets for HOYS already”, she added.

A busy arena saw 13 show and show hunter ponies put through their paces before judges, Richard Ramsay, Chris Lawson and Jordan Cook, with first place going to Stanley Grange Regal Request, owned by Monique Drabble and ridden by her daughter, Eve Duggan, 11. Monique bought the 7 year old chestnut gelding last September. She had previously had a show hunter and Working Hunter pony and was looking for something for Eve to move on to. Rex, as he is known at home, fitted the bill as he had done workers with his previous owners and is a past winner and reserve champion of the Trailblazers Working Hunter finals. “This is definitely our best result to date”, said Eve. “We have done a couple of qualifiers and it is very good experience. He gets quite excited but he has been really good today. We plan to do more shows this summer”, said Eve, who does most of the mucking out and looks after her pony at home, “but mum does the plaiting before a show”, she admitted. Eve, who attends Haxey Primary School, was using this show to gain experience and did not really think that she would qualify for HOYS. “Now that we have actually qualified, it is really exciting”, she said.

Second place went to Mr and Mrs Wilkinson’s Fairly Katrina, ridden by their daughter, Jasmine Wilkinson, 12. The 5 year old bay mare, known as “Bella at home” has been with the Wilkinsons for over a year and they have done mainly showing. Jasmine had previously had a first ridden show pony. “I have never been to HOYS but friends have been and told me about it – I am very excited that we will be competing there”, said Jasmine, a pupil at Frederick Gent School. “This is our first qualifier, so I didn’t really think we would do it”, she added. The pair will do more shows this year and try to qualify for the Royal International Horse Show.