The season opener for the 2016 SEIB Insurance Brokers Search For A Star series at Osbaldeston, Lancashire, on 9 April 2016 lived up to expectations, with a strong entry across all the sections giving the first class team of judges plenty to think about.

Working hunter
The day started with the working hunter and a strong but inviting course saw 11 clears go through to the second phase, judged by Richard Ramsay (conformation) and David Ingle (ride). First place went to the lovely 5 year old, Crunchie Million, owned and ridden by Robyn Taylor, 22, from Blackpool. Robyn wanted a horse to do workers and bought the unbroken chestnut gelding, by Splash Million out of a warmblood mare, 2 years ago. She has backed and brought him on herself and the pair did Pony Club activities, show jumping and dressage at local shows last year. “He was very straight forward to back and we have done a bit of everything just to get out and about”, said Robyn, who works as a shop assistant and fits in riding during the evening and weekends.

Second place went to Sarah Cairns, riding Julie Thwaites’ Ballyblood Sinbad. Sarah, 18, from Formby, has been riding the 10 year old coloured for the past 4 years and they have done mainly hunting and eventing.

Third placed Rebecca Wolfenden, 29, from Skipton, secured her ticket to HOYS riding her mother Angeline Briggs’ Lord Lancer. The 6 year old bay gelding known at home as “Balou”, is homebred, by Lord Louis out of an Irish Sport Horse mare, and the family also have his two younger siblings. “He was bred to show jump, but he turns his hand to anything and we have done some eventing and workers. We have been concentrating on affiliated show jumping this winter”, explained Rebecca. “He was easy to break, he had a few quirks but he is very willing and wants to work. He has such a lovely temperament”. They live on a farm and do lots of road work on quiet country lanes. The pair plan to do more show jumping and working hunter classes before HOYS. “It is so exciting to have qualified. It is a dream come true!” Rebecca had been unlucky with her old horse, who did not settle to showing like Balou. “He was such a cheeky foal and often jumped out of the field to be with humans”, said Rebecca, who works in a riding school.

Riding Club Show Horse
A strong class was split into two sections and competitors were asked to jump two fences and trotting poles in the first phase. Just 7 clears came before judges Chris Lawton (conformation) and David Ingle (ride) for the final judging. First place went to Santana’s Special Edition, known as ‘Rocky”, ridden by Phoebe Mallinson, 18, and owned by her granddad, Joe Hewitson. Rocky, now 8 years old, was just backed when he was bought as a 4 year old, and Phoebe has done most of the work to bring him on. The pair have been successful in the SEIB Trailblazers series, winning the Trailblazers Working Hunter Championship in 2014 and 2015 and the 2015 Trailblazers Prelim Dressage Championship.
Second place went to the 7 year old bay gelding, Meaux Constellation, owned and ridden by Mrs Emma Harris from West Yorkshire. Sadly the top two places could not take their HOYS ticket, and third placed Rebecca Wolfenden had already earned her HOYS place in the Working Hunter. So it was fourth placed Louise Harrison, 18, from St Helens who took the HOYS qualification in this section with an impeccable performance, riding her mother Sheila Harrison’s bay mare, Penny Princess. The 12 year old mare originally came from Ireland and Sheila bought her from a riding school. Louise has brought her on and then she was sold as a 7 year old when Louise was looking for a bigger horse. But within a year Louise was still looking for a horse and spotted Penny advertised for sale again, so they went to Sandbach to buy her back. Louise is a Ride Pilot for the BHS, taking groups of 6 to 8 riders out on hacks in keep local bridleways open, and Penny has proved to be perfect for this role. “We do lots of hacking, and when we ride through the village we sometimes go to McDonalds. Everyone loves her at the drive-through and she gets given carrots”, said Louise. The pair have been successful in the SEIB Trailblazers series, winning the Novice and the Open classes and taking the overall Working Hunter championship, and winning both the 75cm and 85cm Show Jumping at the 2014 Trailblazers Championships. They also won the NCPA Intermediate Working Hunter Pony in 2015. During the winter months they hunt regularly with the Cheshire bloodhounds, and they have qualified for the Festival of the Horse hunter trial. The pair plan to do some BE Eventing this year, as well as doing some HOYS workers. “He is the ideal mother daughter share horse. Louise works in a bar and I do Penny when she is away”, explained Sheila, who works as a radiographer at Alderhay. Louise is helped at shows by Faye Rudge, who she called her Lucky Friend. “When we were at the CHAPS Championships in 2015, Faye found a 4 leaf clover and put it in my pocket. We won the class – our first win ever – and reserve champion”, said Louise.

Riding horse/Hack
Another quality entry was split into 2 sections for preliminary judging by Richard Ramsay (conformation) and David Bartram (ride) and 8 horses came back for the final placing. First place went to Fielding Fairytale, known as Doris, owned and ridden by Angela Hesketh, from Cheadle, Staffordshire.

Katie Atkinson, 28, from Preston riding her own Malibu Dancer stood second and earned a place at the HOYS final. Katie has owned the 8 year old ex-racehorse since 2012 and bought him straight out of racing. “He had previously hurdled but I bought him off Eric Alston before he had run him”, she explained. Since then Katie has retrained Malibu and they did a few local shows last year. “This is our first proper season”, said Katie, who has 2 other ex-racehorses that she acquired “by accident”. “He is also called “ASBO” at home as he can sometimes be a bit of a thug”, she said. He was bred in Ireland and then went to the USA before returning to the UK to race. The pair won the amateur class at Aintree Show last year and plan to do more showing, including riding horse and ex-racehorse classes, this year. “I never thought that going to HOYS would be within our grasp. It’s unbelievable!” said Katie, who works as an aircraft electrician and also loves to go racing.

Show ponies and Show Hunter Ponies are combined for this class and a good entry was split into two sections for preliminary judging by David Bartram and Richard Ramsay. In the final placings, the top spot went to the lovely show hunter pony, to Balfour Hawkeye, owned by Vanessa Donald and ridden by her daughter, Madeline, 12, from Wilmslow. The family bought the 7 year old chestnut gelding, known at “mischief”, 2 years ago with the aim of doing working hunter pony classes. The pair have competed in Welsh Section B classes and won Champion Show Hunter Pony at BSPS 2015. “He is the sweetest pony, he is mad about food”, said Maddy. who is studying at Wilmslow High School. Mischief is kept locally at Holly Bank Stud and Maddy rides most days after school, hacking and schooling to prepare for the shows. They are trained by Anna Meehan, Andrew Collins and Helen Taylor. The pair will do more show hunter pony qualifiers this year, in preparation of HOYS.

Second place went to Joanne Jesson’s Greensyke Sonny Boy, known as Murphy, ridden by daughter, Amelia Jesson, 10, from Harrogate. The family have owned Murphy, by Hollyhill Drummers Dream out of Parkton Silver Mist. since 2012 when they bought him from his breeder. He had done very little when they got him and Amelia has worked hard to prepare him for the show ring, doing clinics, fun rides and schooling. They love jumping and want to do more working hunter pony classes, having already gained success winning the BSPS Winter Championships Working Hunter Pony Cradle Stakes in March this year. “He was so green when we got him, but he always does his best for you. He is so honest and never puts a foot wrong”, said Joanne. They plan to do the BSPS Summer Championships and the Great Yorkshire show. “We didn’t think for a minute that we would qualify. A HOYS ticket seemed far away and I told Amelia just to enjoy it”, said Joanne, “And now its in my pocket!” added Amelia, who is a student at Pannal Primary School.

Another good entry was again split for initial judging by Richard Ramsay (conformation) and David Ingle (ride). Seven were brought back for final placing and Astor, owned and ridden by Georgina Doran, 24, from Bolton, stood top. The 11 year old grey gelding is by the show jumping sire Odermus R, and Georgina had him on loan for 2 years before buying him last October. They have done mainly dressage and showing and were Reserve Champion Riding Horse at the North West Championships in 2015. “He is such a wonderful horse to do, he is a dream. His stable manners are perfect, he is the quietest horse on the yard”, said Georgina, who keeps Astor at a small private yard with a friend and fits in riding around her work in admin for the local authority. “I owe this to Maxine Jagger who has been giving me lessons and has been a massive influence”, said Georgina. “He just knows his job and has an unbelievable attitude – I can turn him out for a week and get back on him and he is just the same”, she added. Georgina also has a welsh section D and a welsh section A that she has just backed this year. Her plan is to keep showing in preparation for HOYS.

Second place went to the aptly named Huntsman, owned and ridden by Emma Field, 15, from Bridgnorth, Shropshire. Emma is an active member of the East Shropshire Riding Club and does many of their clinics and events. ‘Oliver’, as he is known at home, is an Irish Sports Horse with Irish Draft x thoroughbred breeding, and Emma bought him in September 2014 when she was looking for a show horse. He had never been to a show so the pair did just local events last year, with some working hunter and dressage over the winter. “This is our first proper year showing. We watched SFAS at HOYS and I wanted to have a go. I have always wanted to ride at HOYS”, said Emma. The pair will do more shows this summer and plan to go to Equifest later in the year. At home they do mostly schooling and hacking. “He can be very funny. When we are out on a hack he likes to look at his own reflection in the windows. He loves cross country and I would like to do working hunters eventually”, explained Emma, whose ambition is to work with show horses. She is currently studying at Bridgenorth Endowed School in Shropshire. At shows Emma is helped by mum, Mandy Field, and friend, Kate. She started riding on a hairy pony and was so keen that Kate clipped it for her and took her to a show. “She rides every day and works very hard. She moved on from a 14.2hh pony to Oliver, and he is pretty full on and has not been easy. But she has persevered and it has all paid off”, said Kate.

The standard of entries was again high in the cob section and entries were split for initial judging by David Bartram (ride) and Richard Ramsay (conformation). In the final placings, Benjamin Payne, 27, a vet from Essex, took the top spot with his brown gelding, Spartacus, known as Bruno at home. Benjamin bought the 8 year old cob as a replacement for his eventer as his job as a vet did not allow time for eventing. The cob had done nothing except hunt in Ireland before Ben got him, so he started to re-school him from scratch. Last year the pair did a little cross country, some hunting and dressage to help with Bruno’s education. “I think I look at horses differently because of my job, but people said to me that I should try showing him. So we decided to give it our best shot and had planned to do all the SFAS qualifiers this year – so we drove 5 ½ hours from Essex for the first one. I have always wanted to do HOYS, and it just has not sunk in yet. I can’t believe we have qualified first time out!” said a delighted Ben. Bruno, who is of unknown breeding, lives out and Ben produces him from the field. “He is safe and quiet and has such a good character. He takes out the breakers at home and I can ride and lead off him. I can put him in the field with anything, he is just a delight and has no quirks that we know of!”

Second place went to Kathryn Riddle, 28, from Sheffield, riding her own Corrabaun Kingdom, known as Bob. Kathryn has owned the 5 year old pure Irish Draft for 2 years and does ID classes and cob classes. They have already tasted some success, standing second in their class at the ID Breed Show in 2015, and winning two novice cob classes. They have also done a season hunting with the Badsworth and Bramham Moor and Bob loved it. “He lives out all the time and we live on a farm so he is used to going out with the cows”, said Kathryn, who works on the family farm and runs a cattery. “This is our first try at a HOYS qualifier, and it is just amazing that we are through”.

Sadly, the day was marred for some as a number of prize winners were found not to meet the strict eligibility criteria of Search for a Star and as such they have not qualified for HOYS. The organisers have issued a separate statement reiterating that the rules will be enforced and urging competitors to read the rules and comply.

“It is very sad when we have to tell people they have not qualified, mostly regarding our passport rule, but rules are rules and any breach will not be tolerated. If you are a true amateur and fall within the rules we will bend over backwards to help you fulfil your dream, so please do not let these comments put you off. The SEIB Search for a Star competition is here to provide a level playing field”, said Nicolina MacKenzie, SEIB Insurance Brokers Marketing Manager.


These are the class results on the day, but they may not all qualify for HOYS due to passport irregularities or at the judge’s discretion or where the same rider has qualified twice or where the horse or rider do not meet all eligibility requirements.

Working Hunter
1st, Crunchie Million, owned and ridden by Miss Robyn Taylor
2nd, Ballyblood Sinbad, owned by Mrs Julie Thwaites and ridden by Miss Sarah Cairns
3rd, Lord Lancer, owned by Ms Angeline Briggs and ridden by Miss Rebecca Wolfenden
4th, Burnlea Sea Captain, owned and ridden by Miss Alecs Farr

Riding Club Show Horse
1st, Santana’s Special Edition, owned by Mr Arnold Hewitson and ridden by Miss Phoebe Mallinson
2nd, Meaux Constellation, owned and ridden by Mrs Emma Harris
3rd, Lord Lancer, owned by Ms Angeline Briggs and ridden by Miss Rebecca Wolfenden
4th, Penny Princess, owned by Mrs Sheila Harrison and ridden by Miss Louise Harrison

Riding Horse/Hack
1st, Fielding Fairytale, owned and ridden by Mrs Angela Hesketh
2nd, Malibu Dancer, owned and ridden by Miss Katie Atkinson
3rd, Azaria, owned and ridden by Ms Gillian Allinson
4th, Penstrumbly Pendragon, owned by Mrs Marge McDonnell and ridden by Miss Helen McDonnell

1st Balfour Hawkeye, owned by Mrs Vanessa Donald and ridden by Miss Madeline Donald
2nd, Greensyke Sonny Boy, owned by Mrs Joanne Jesson and ridden by Miss Amelia Jesson
3rd, Topend State of Play, owned by Mrs Alison Clarke-Hill and ridden by Miss Lydia Clarke-Hill
4th, Tideline Rainbow King, owned by Mrs Claire Gervin-Hewitson and ridden by Miss Sarah Barker

Show Hunter
1st, Astor, owned and ridden by Miss Georgina Doran
2nd, Huntsman, owned by Mrs Amanda Field and ridden by Miss Emma Field
3rd, Crunchie Million, owned and ridden by Miss Robyn Taylor
4th, Pictus Aristocrat, owned and ridden by Mrs Lesley Brown

1st, Spartacuss III, owned and ridden by Mr Benjamin Kingsley Payne
2nd, Corrabaun Kingdom, owned and ridden by Miss Kathryn Riddle
3rd, Morrows Orea, owned by Mr Philip Evans and ridden by Miss Jodie Evans
4th, Back to White, owned and ridden by Ms Claire Thorburn