Hot competition for HOYS tickets at Onley Grounds Search for a Star

The second SEIB Search for a Star and Racehorse to Riding Horse qualifier of 2021 took place on the 28th July 2021 at Onley Grounds Equestrian Complex in Warwickshire. Judges, Richard Ramsay, Jordan Cook, Loraine Homer, Louise Gaunt and Hannah Horton saw over 120 horses and ponies between them during the day. They were assisted by stewards, Helen Dunwell, former Racehorse to Riding Horse HOYS winning rider, Rebecca Court and Dan Adams.

Following on a great run of results, Polly Baker and her own, Latice won a strong working horse class. Having already won – and qualified in the Search for a Star hunter class at Richmond EC – Polly brought Latice to Onley for his first indoors outing. She said: “I never believed we would do this! The judge Richard Ramsay suggested that I should pick heading to HOYS in this class rather than the show hunters. I will definitely take this advice. Since their win in the hunters at Richmond, Latice and Polly have been to RIHS, she added: “RIHS was a wonderful experience, we were outridden and unplaced, but just to get there was brilliant. We will now go autumn hunting and out on some sponsored rides and indoor show-jumping in the run up to HOYS.”

The working pony winner, Harriet Green with her own Connemara, Breaffy Honey Drop was thrilled with the result. Harriet, who has owned Harold as the pony is known at home, since he was a just-broken four-year-old, said: “His temperament is 10 out of 10, I just don’t know what to say, I had never jumped before I had him and neither had he – it was the blind leading the blind. We go out every other week and our aim is to have fun.” Harriet previously owned a Connemara and when it came to looking for a new pony, she was determined to find another one. Harriet is studying for a Phd in Global Health Politics at Leeds University.

Hayley Knibbs with her own chestnut gelding, Golden Shot took top spot in the Hunter class. Hayley said: “I never thought this would happen. We have been to Search for a Star three times previously and I am so delighted that we have now qualified.” Hayley has owned Golden Shot for 5 years, she continued: “When he first arrived, he was known as Terminally Terrified Tim, it has taken five years for him to build up his trust in us and the world in general. I am thrilled at how he is going now. We have been riding him side-saddle and thought that we would have one more go at Search for a Star this year before concentrating on side-saddle next year.” Hayley and Golden Shot have already done well this year in some side-saddle classes including taking the champion title at Herts County and coming 5th at Royal Windsor.

In second place in the hunter class was Lucy Hopkins riding her Irish Sports Horse, Chilly Breeze.  A delighted Lucy said: “We never expected this. I bought him from some friends as a hunter and we decided that he was nice enough to give showing a go.” Lucy and her husband, Wheatland huntsman, Derek Hopkins bought Chilly Breeze from Rowan and Lydia Cope after they had brought him over from Ireland as a five-year-old. Lucy added: “He was 16hh when we bought him, and spent quite a bit of time out in the field over lockdown. During this time he did plenty of growing, so he now stands just shy of 17hh. We haven’t done much with him until this season where he has been out and placed a few times. He did well at the Brook Farm show. To be off to HOYS has always been a bit of a dream.”

Two hacks filled the top two placings in the riding horse hack qualifier. Heading this competitive class were Rachel Cutter and Romanno Royal Myth. Rachel said: “We towed through thunder and lightning from Tregarron in West Wales to get here and I am so pleased we made the effort. This is the first Search for a Star qualifier that we have been to and it really is a dream come true.” Rachel has owned Romanno Royal Myth since she was a three-year-old, she bought her through a friend following a tricky start when she was nearly put down as a yearling. Rachel continued: “It was Romanno Royal Myth’s breeding that got me interested in her, she has great riding pony bloodlines. We have brought her on really slowly and she spends plenty of time hacking up on the Welsh mountains. In the run up to HOYS we will have plenty of lessons and work on our confidence.” Rachel works in the family builders merchants and combines this with volunteering as a retained fire fighter being on call for 120 hours per week.

Thoroughbred mare, Shift The Blame and Louisa Simpson took second place in the riding horse hacks. Louise bought this mare for £600 as a four-year-old. She said: “Belle has been a superstar today. This season we had three aims, qualifying for the amateur ex-racehorse championship at Hickstead, which we did and competed in the main Hickstead arena, second was to qualify for the Novice RoR championship and finally to qualify for HOYS in Search for a Star. I am beyond delighted to have achieved this.” Louise and Belle were unplaced in their previous Search for a Star qualifier at Richmond in North Yorkshire, she added: “Today, I brought my little friend Ava Lambert to help in the ring. She is just 10 years-old and has already organised getting the day off school for the HOYS finals! Belle ran once on the flat and was deemed too slow and too keen on her food. She has a very successful full-brother that has won on the flat in Japan.” Belle and Louise are trained by event rider, J.P Sheffield.

Steph Staples riding her own, Randalstown Rival won a big cob class ay Onley. Steph said: “This is the first time we have been to Search for a Star. I didn’t know what to expect at all – a few of my friends have done Search for a Star and our trainer said why not give it a go! Boris as we call him was bought by my mum Lorna Staples and now I get to ride him too. My mum bought him last year to do some in-hand classes with, but he is very sensitive and a bit sharp so I have been riding him. We saw Boris’ old owners who brought him over from Ireland as a young horse and they are planning to come and watch us at HOYS.” Steph and Boris competed in the coloured cobs class at the Royal International a few weeks ago but were unplaced. Steph runs a kennels and dog day care and also events her other horse at BE90 level.

Cob runners up were Danielle Leech riding Sharon Cottam’s maxi-cob, Billy Joe. A delighted Danielle said: “We’ve never done showing before. My old trainer mentioned to me a while ago about Search for a Star, so I looked it up and realised maxi-cobs could take part so off we went. He is my mum’s horse that she bought to hack, but he is a bit special. We have owned him for a year and he arrived from Ireland two years ago. He is sensitive and we have been to about seven shows in total now.” Danielle runs a boarding kennels and events her own horse with whom she has qualified for the British Riding Clubs National Championships. Danielle added “I will carry on enjoying riding Billy Joe in the run up to HOYS – the main thing is that he is also enjoying it.”

A very strong Racehorse to Riding Horse class was judged by Jordan Cook and Richard Ramsay. Minella Rebellion ridden by Katie Dashwood came out the winner. Minella Rebellion was in training with Nicky Henderson during his racing career. Katie said: “He is a very special horse with manners to burn. He didn’t love the racing but is now shining in the show ring. The lads at Nicky Henderson’s used to fight to get to ride him out each day. He will be lightly and carefully campaigned in the run up to HOYS.” Minella Rebellion is produced from Jo Bates’ yard. Katie added: “Jo has done such a wonderful job with him.” Minella Rebellion will now campaign some HOYS Riding Horse qualifiers and the novice RoR finals.

Jill Wormall and the grey, Sovereign Debt took runner-up spot in the Racehorse to Riding Horse class. Jill said: “I am so pleased to have qualified, he was great today. Sovereign Debt didn’t go to any shows in 2020. All through covid I rode him for 10 minutes each day to help him settle. He lives with our top ex-show horse, Colour Coded out in the field.” Jill’s mother, Mrs Wormall said: “Following his very successful racing career in which he won over £850,000, Sovereign Debt paraded several times, including at Royal Ascot and HOYS. He was owned by Lady O’Reilley and John Hames while he was in racing. Our main aim is that he continues to enjoy his showing in the run-up to HOYS.”

Conformation judge, Richard Ramsay said: “The racehorse class was just incredible, as ever the standard gets higher and higher. It was a difficult class to judge as the standard is so high.” Richard was assisted in judging the racehorse class conformation by probationary judge Julia Scott.

The traditional gypsy cob, coloured, class had some very strong entries and was won by Laura Hartley riding her own skewbald, Ruby Slippers. Laura said: “I bought her a couple of years ago with the aim of doing some showing with her. She is the first traditional I have had and she has taught me a lot. Before owning Ruby Slippers, I was more into hacks and cobs. After our year off in 2020, I planned to aim her at Search for a Star this year.” Ruby lives at home on Laura’s farm – with the cows – and Laura plans to breed from her once they have finished showing. Laura added: “In the run up to HOYS we will have plenty of fun together, we will go to Equifest and take part in some fun rides. I will also go to some showing clinics with Susie Shuttleworth and Ann Leaven.”

Amber Rudledge and her own, Storm won the solid colour traditional cob class at Onley. Amber said: “I am just delighted, we have been practising and practising at home and we are finally ready for shows this year. Storm needed a new home as a young horse and I was so pleased to take her on. I saw her and just couldn’t leave without her. We broke her in ourselves and she has in time turned from a duckling into a swan. Even though she is only six she has a very mature head. HOYS has always been my dream and definitely with Storm.” Amber will take storm out on pleasure rides with a bit of hunting and dressage in the run up to HOYS.

The mountain and moorland winners at Onley were Mia Anness and her own Welsh section D, Cheshmere Exclusive. Mia exclaimed: “We only came here for the experience today and she has gone and won!” The Anness’ family have owned Cheshmere Exclusive since she was a three-year-old. Mia continued: “We have brought her on slowly and today was even the first time she has gone in a double bridle. We do lots of hacking at home, my mum rides her and we enjoy showing, pleasure rides and beach rides. Cheshmere Exclusive has a brilliant temperament.”

Connemara, Eastlands Banker took second place in the mountain and moorlands at Onley with Alicia Gee. Eastlands Banker is owned by Emma Howard. Alicia said: “We are determined to do well this year! We qualified for the Search for a Star Your Horse Live final in 2019 but he was tense in the finals so we didn’t do so well. I’ve ridden Eastlands Banker for 5 years after I outgrew my 13.2hh show pony. He is so versatile and loves competing in cross-country, working hunter pony classes and riding club shows. In the run up to Your Horse Live we will be doing plenty of practising in an indoor arena.” Alicia works in Oakfield Saddlery in Leyland.

Part-bred traditional cob winners in the Your Horse Live qualifying class were Kimberly Maw and her own skewbald, Kiwi III. Kimberly said: “We have done quite a bit of showing over the years. We did Search for a Star in the working horse class a few years ago and didn’t get on so well so when we saw the new part-bred class come up we decided to give it a go. Also Kiwi was 1st in the in-hand Traditional of the Year Show as a Part-Bred a few years ago.” Kimberly has owned the now 10-year-old Kiwi since she was just three. She continued: “I broke her in and backed her, we have done mainly showing with several British Dressage competitions during lockdown, we won lots at prelim and novice level. We will mainly do hacking and cross country before Your Horse Live.”

Veteran pony, Shantaine Humbug and his rider Poppy Daly took their class at Onley. Eighteen-year-old piebald, Shantaine Humbug is owned by Louise Daly. Poppy said: “He was perfect today, we have had him for 5 years and in that time we have done everything together, gaining lots of experience in pony club and riding club. He loves jumping and isn’t too bad at dressage! We made it through to the riding club combined training championships and have also competed at the Royal International in the ridden coloured traditional class.”

Claire Marriott and her own 25-year-old Arab mare, Tukki Amira qualified for the Your Horse Live Search for a Star veteran horse finals at Onley. Claire was gifted Tukki Amira by her previous owner, Stara Holland in 2011. A delighted Claire said: “Over the years she has bred a few foals, competed at Royal International and also been to HOYS. Tukki Amira has even been in a book, (Beautiful Horses by Liz Wright) representing the Arabian breed. We don’t treat her like she is old. She lives in at night and out in the day.” Claire also has a claim to fame, having starred in the tv show, “Say Yes to the Dress” with her bridesmaid – and helper at Onley - Jessica Bowring, ahead of her wedding on the 19th November this year.

SEIB’s Marketing Manager, Nicolina MacKenzie said: “For the first time ever this week we are holding back-to-back Search for a Star competitions. Today we have been at Onley and tomorrow we are off to Stoneleigh. It will be really interesting to listen to feedback from our competitors. Today has been busy and we have seen some fabulous horses and ponies. We are grateful to our new stewards on board the Search for a Star team today. Rebecca Court, Helen Dunwell and Dan Adams. They have been a huge help and ensured that things have run smoothly and efficiently in the busy arenas today.”

For all Search for a Star and Racehorse to Riding Horse information and to enter, please see

Further qualifying competitions 2021:

9th August - West Wilts Equestrian Centre, Wiltshire BA14 6QT

14th August – NAF Five Star International Horse Trials, Gloucestershire GL19 3BE (SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse Only)

23rd August - Bury Farm Equestrian Club, Buckinghamshire LU7 9BT

Please note that all dates and venues could be subject to change.

The Search for a Star classes with finals at HOYS include; hacks, hunters, working pony, working horses, riding horses, traditional gypsy cobs – of any colour, show cobs, and the longstanding SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse final. Search for a Star qualifiers in the mountain and moorland classes, veteran horse or pony and part-bred traditional cob will head to Your Horse Live for their championships.

Leading equine Insurance brokers, SEIB Insurance Brokers set up Search for a Star over 20 years ago so they could offer a unique competition opportunity to many of their amateur rider customers. SEIB has a long association with the showing world and is renowned for ‘putting something back’ by supporting many equestrian events and activities in addition to Search for a Star.

In the meantime - if you need to insure your horse, horsebox, trailer, yard or business - SEIB are here to help so please give us a call on 01708 850000 or visit #SEIBhere2help

Results SEIB Search for a Star and Racehorse to Riding Horse Onley Grounds Equestrian Complex 27th July 2021

Score sheets for Working Horse, Working Pony and Mountain & Moorland can be found here 

Class 1A Working Horse – Latice, owned and ridden by Polly Baker from Norfolk

Class 1B Working Pony – Breaffy Honey Drop owned and ridden by Harriet Green from Nottinghamshire

Class 2 Show Hunter – 1st Golden Shot owned by Steven Burden and ridden by Hayley Knibbs from Milton Meynes

Class 2 Show Hunter – 2nd Chilly Breeze owned and ridden by Lucy Hopkins from Shropshire

Class 3 Riding Horse Hack – 1st Romanno Royal Myth owned and ridden by Rachel Cutter from Ceredigion

Class 3 Riding Horse Hack – 2nd Shift the Blame owned and ridden by Louisa Simpson from Lincolnshire

Class 4 Show and Maxi Cob – 1st Randalstown Rival owned and ridden by Steph Staples from Milton Keynes

Class 4 Show and Maxi Cob – 2nd Billy Joe owned by Sharon Cottam and ridden by Danielle Leech from Preston

Class 5 Racehorse to Riding Horse – 1st Minella Rebellion owned and ridden by Katie Dashwood from Oxfordshire

Class 5 Racehorse to Riding Horse – 2nd Sovereign Debt owned and ridden by Jill Wormall from Leicestershire

Class 6A Traditional Gypsy Cob Piebald and Skewbald - 1st Ruby Slippers owned and ridden by Laura Hartley from Lancashire

Class 6B Traditional Gypsy Cob Solid Colour – 1st Storm owned and ridden by Amber Rudledge from Yorkshire

Class 7 Mountain and Moorland – 1st Cheshmere Exclusive owned and ridden by Mia Anness from Cleckheaton

Class 7 Mountain and Moorland – 2nd Eastlands Banker owned by Emma Howard and ridden by Alicia Gee from Preston

Class 8 Part-Bred Traditional Gypsy Cob – 1st Kiwi III owned and ridden by Kimberly Maw from Hull

Class 9A Veteran Pony – 1st Shantaine Humbug owned by Louise Daly and ridden by Poppy Daly from Peterborough

Class 9B Veteran Horse – 1st Tukki Amira owned and ridden by Lady Claire Marriott from Preston