Top class entries at Stretcholt Search for a Star

The second SEIB Insurance Brokers Search for a Star qualifier of the season took place at Stretcholt Equestrian Centre in Somerset on the 19th May. The standard of entries across the Search for a Star classes was particularly strong and drew several positive comments from judges, Jane Hubbard, Jordan Cook and Richard Ramsay. In contrast to the previous qualifier at Osbaldeston last month, plenty of the competitors at Stretcholt qualified in Search for a Star at the first time of trying and once again we had a lot of owner riders which is lovely to see. In the Mountain and Moorland competition, with its final at Your Horse Live, breeds local to this West Country venue were well represented. The judges in this class, Jackie Webb and Louise Gaunt are enthusiastic supporters of the Search for a Star Mountain and Moorland series and were very pleased with the overall standard of entries. The huge and very competitive SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse class at Stretcholt had a great variety of horses in the placings, from those that ran once or twice as racehorses, right through to those that had many wins at the highest levels of racing. The winner has been campaigning in the Racehorse to Riding Horse series for several years and the runner up was at his first ever show class  with his new rider.

The day got off to a good start for thirteen-year-old Erin Jennings and her piebald pony, Tregaire Tiger Lily (Hot Tottie II) with a win in the working pony class. Erin and Lily as the pony is known at home came to Stretcholt following a placing in the working hunter pony class at Devon County show the previous day. Erin said: “I was so nervous before the class at Devon County that I think it helped my confidence today. She was great and I am very excited to have qualified for HOYS.” Lily was bred by Debbie Babb and the Jennings family bought her as a four-year-old, three years ago. This was the first time that Erin and Lily have competed in Search for a Star. Lily’s mother, Kim Jennings said: “We had heard about Search for a Star so I looked up details about it on Facebook and we decided to give it a go.” Erin and Lily have had other success in the ring in working hunter pony classes, including a win at Royal Cornwall show last year and the pair have qualified for RIHS. Search for a Star judge, Richard Ramsay said: “Our winner went round in a really nice way, she was mannerly and was   turned out beautifully.” Erin is a pupil at Roselind Academy in Truro.

Erin Jennings and Tregaire Tiger Lily

Working horse judges Jane Hubbard and Jordan Cook agreed they would both have liked the opportunity to ride their winner Rambo, owned and ridden by Pippa Tucker but as they give a set show it wasn’t possible! This was the first time that this homebred has competed in a showing class. Pippa said: “I am so pleased with Rambo, we had better head off out to some other shows to practise ahead of HOYS! I work as an accountant and horses are my hobby. Rambo is such a gentle giant, even as a four-year-old off on his first outings he was always really well behaved.” Pippa and Rambo have done plenty of British Eventing classes and competed in the Mitsubishi Motors Cup for grassroots riders at Badminton Horse Trials in 2017. The pair now compete mainly in dressage. Pippa added: “Rambo is by a Jumbo stallion, Karandsj, and his dam was out of an advanced eventing mare who we bought to breed from.” There were a total of 23 entries in the working horse class, Jordan Cook said: “The standard in this class was very high and most of the horses in the back row wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Search for a Star finals.”

Pippa Tucker and Rambo

Sarah Wharton won the hunter class with her own dark bay gelding, Jack. Sarah, who was also celebrating her birthday, said: “What a lovely birthday present. I didn’t expect my day to go this well! My friend, Fiona Benger, who won this class here a year ago persuaded me to bring Jack along today and I am very glad I did.” Sarah bought Jack as a four-year-old from Ireland for her daughter Rosie Wharton to ride. Sarah continued: “Jack did everything with Rosie from pony club to eventing and now she isn’t around so much I have been riding him for the past few seasons. We have been competing in riding club dressage and last year won our section at the Riding Club National Championships. Jack also won the local hunter class at Devon County last year.” Ride judge, Jane Hubbard said of the winner: “Every time I looked at our winning horse he had his ears forward and was looking through the bridle.”

Sarah Wharton and Jack

Another homebred took the runner up spot in the hunter class at Stretcholt, this time it was Heather Williams and her own, Plume Top Malika. This pair were a late entry to the show, Heather said: “I was talked into coming to Search for a Star at a local show last week. I am thrilled that we did so well.” Plume Top Malika is out of a purebred Holstein dam and is by Lowstock Huntsman. Heather continued: “We have taken our time to get out there and doing well, he can be a bit interesting to ride  sometimes, Michal Van Houben who backed him was the only other person than me who rode him for a long time. We compete at novice level dressage and jumping, one day it would be great to get out there and do some working hunter classes.” The pair plan to go out and compete in agricultural shows in the run up to HOYS.

The new Search for a Star traditional gypsy cob classes saw some high-quality entries. In the piebald and skewbald section, Pippa Tucker rode Jacqui Down’s piebald horse, Big Mac to a win. This was the second win of the day for Pippa who fits riding in around her full time accountancy job. Pippa is only able to ride one horse at HOYS and she decided to take her homebred hunter class winner, Rambo, so the qualification passed down the line in the traditionals class. Taking runner-up spot and HOYS qualification in this class was Laura Barwood riding her own skewbald gelding, Jack. Laura said: “It is amazing to have qualified for HOYS. I have owned Jack for 2 years now, he was bred by travellers and has had several different owners before I bought him. When I bought him he had been out in a field and had no outline so we have done plenty of work to get him going. I have wanted to do Search for a Star for a while and we will now go out and do plenty of dressage and shows over the summer to make sure he is nice and calm and not nervous at HOYS.” Laura works as a detective for Wiltshire Police.

Winning the solid coloured traditional class was Chloe Williams riding her own, bay silver dapple gelding, Mr Jones. Chloe said: “I am so excited to have qualified for HOYS, my grandparents bought Mr Jones as a two-year-old to show in hand and then since my grandad is now struggling to run, I have inherited Mr Jones.” During his in-hand career, Mr Jones had success at the Traditional Gypsy Cob Association show and won at the Royal London show. Until the past year, Chloe had not ridden since she was a small child. This was the pair’s third show together, Chloe added: “My grandad bought Mr Jones as he was by Vinnie, he is really well-bred. We will get out more and improve our confidence together ahead of HOYS.” Richard Ramsay said: “The winner of the coloured traditional class was exceptional in the way he was presented and his way of going. The solid colour winner is potentially a very high-class animal too and we are here to help them get ready for HOYS .”

Chloe Williams and Mr Jones

Megan Field and her own Welsh section B pony, Gwithian Gallant won the Search for a Star Mountain and Moorland small breeds class. The Field’s bought Freddie, as the pony is known, last year as a four-year-old. Megan has brought Freddie on herself and the pair compete in both dressage and showing classes. Thirteen-year-old Megan attends Kineton High School, she said: “I am thrilled to have won Search for a Star and Freddie was so good. My school are really supportive of my riding and happy for me to have the odd day off to go competing.” Search for a Star has been a long-term plan for Megan and Freddie, Megan has been waiting until she was old enough to take part in the series.

Megan Field and Claire Rafferty

Taking runner up spot in the small breeds Mountain and Moorland class was Claire Rafferty and her four-year-old Dartmoor pony, Shilstone Rocks Goosey Fair, who is known at home as Graf. Claire who has owned the pony since he was a two-year-old said: “We bought a lead rein pony for my daughter from the same place and then the lady rang to see if we would like Graf as well. We did a few in-hand shows last year and I backed and broke him in over the winter and we have started showing this spring. It was a last-minute decision to come here, but I am very glad we did.” Claire’s daughter Freya sometimes rides Graf at home, Claire added, “Freya has the odd go on him and my younger daughter who is two has also had a sit on him. I hope he will be a pony that my children can go on to ride.” Judge, Louise Gaunt commented that the pony was beautifully schooled.

In the large breeds Mountain and Moorland section, the Connemara pony, Doleen Carraig Star took first place. Owned and ridden by Ruby Dodds, this quality dapple grey pony went beautifully. Ruby said: “This is the best she has ever gone, I am thrilled to have qualified. We have owned her for eighteen months and she hasn’t always been the easiest, but we have been keeping everything very varied and doing plenty of hacking which seems to help.” Ruby and her partner, Phil Dodds who has a coloured horse, head off to the shows together and groom for each other. Phil is a personal trainer in the army and so the couple are used to moving around the country, they moved from Plymouth to Wiltshire two-years-ago. Ruby works part-time in the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers museum in Lyneham.

The large breeds runner up was Posbrook Missy Elliot, a 14-year-old Welsh Section D, owned and ridden by Anneka Marlowe-Dauncey. This pair had planned to do Search for a Star since hearing about the class. Anneka said: “I’ve owned her since she was a foal and we had decided that Search for a Star would be a great thing for us to give a go as there are no professional riders in the classes.” Anneka used to ride, Posbrook Missy Elliot’s sire, Tydfil Lloyd Dun N Dusted and she was there when the mare was born. Anneka continued: “We have spent plenty of years out happy hacking before deciding to give showing a go. I work for an Aerospace company and fit in looking after the horses around this.”

There was a strong entry in the riding horse hack class at Stretcholt, the winner was Sarah Walker riding her own, Dr Cookie Monster. This 7-year-old mare is out of a show pony mare and by top dressage stallion, Dimaggo. He was bred by Dionne Ragan, Sarah said: “I am so thrilled to be off to HOYS, I am new to showing and it is all very exciting.” Sarah has plenty of experience eventing and a few years ago injured her back meaning that she is now competing in showing. This was the mare’s second ever show. At her first show at West Wilts she qualified for the Royal International Horse Show in the small riding horse class. Sarah said: “We have had a great day at Search for a Star, my friend Sian Tucker has been brilliant in helping me, and she is planning to do the next Search for a Star qualifier at Bury Farm.” Sarah works part-time in admin for the NHS and part-time at Brown and Brown Independent Financial Advisers.

Sarah Walker and Dr Cookie Monster

Former successful racehorse, Monkerty Tunkerty took second place in the riding horse hack class. He is owned and ridden by his former jockey, Jessica Westwood. Jessica said: “This is the first time we have done Search for a Star, it is so exciting to have qualified for HOYS! Monkerty Tunkerty ran 33 times as a racehorse, he won 9 times and five of those times I was riding him. He is my horse of a lifetime, I had a bad fall several years ago and was partially paralysed down my left hand side and suffered a brain injury. Monkey really looks after me and we have achieved so much together.” In the three years since Monkerty Tunkerty has retired from racing he has been busy showing and showjumping. He was the Retraining of Racehorses Horse of the Year in 2018 and he and Jessica won the racehorse class at Devon County show just the day before the Search for a Star show.

Jessica Westwood and Monkerty Tunkerty

Cob winners, Vikki Swindell and her own Cobmmando were competing in just their third ever show at Stretcholt. Vikki said: “I am so pleased and we were not expecting to win at all. We competed in Search for a Star here, last year and came fourth, we did a class last weekend and now the show today, so to be off to HOYS is amazing. My trainer Matthew Lawrence saw Alfie as he is known at a clinic at Badgeworth, someone else bought him and I thought no more of it, until I heard that he was not getting on with his new owner who decided to sell him, whereupon I bought him.” Vikki will do plenty more shows with Alfie over the summer, including Bath and West in a few weeks.

Vikki Swindell and Cobmmando

In runner up spot in the cob class were Emily Chambers and her own Wuffstan Evensong. Emily said: “I never thought I would get to HOYS. I haven’t done much showing at all and we have done a few county shows before coming here. I have had to borrow all the gear for today!” Emily’s helper on the day, Victoria Cordery won the SEIB prize for the best dressed groom. Wuffstan Evensong – who is known as Evie – was bred by Linda Lodge, Emily added: “Linda will be delighted to hear that she has qualified for HOYS.” Emily had previously sold Evie, but her new owner didn’t get on with her so Emily bought her back.

SEIB Marketing Manager Nicolina Mackenzie said: “Wendy Edgar and her team at Stretcholt are always so welcoming and it is a pleasure to spend the day there. I was delighted with the standard of entries and it was great to see so many owner / rider combinations competing in Search for a Star. It was also a delight  to see two homebred horses, both ridden by their breeders, earning their HOYS tickets and a racehorse that had the same jockey from when it was in training qualify.”

Leading equine Insurance brokers, SEIB Insurance Brokers provide cover for horses, horse boxes, yards and much more. The company has a long association with the showing world and is renowned for ‘putting something back’ by supporting equestrian events and activities.


Class 1 A Working Pony
1st Erin Jennings riding Hot Tottie II
2nd Julie Carter riding Senny Cymro
3rd Megan Brown riding Teddy Bear III
4th Kirsty Budd riding Summerhouse Greta

Class 1B Working Horse
1st Pippa Tucker riding Rambo
2nd Hayley Foster riding Brixham Cruiver Donald
3rd Sarah Wharton riding Jack
4th Cheryl Beer riding A Dazzlin Turn
5th Kate Kerswell riding Sambora
6th Joanne Odle riding Alfie Moon

Class 2 Show Hunters
1st Sarah Wharton riding Jack
2nd Heather Williams riding Plume Top Malika
3rd Victoria White riding Craughwell Dexter
4th Ella Mattravers riding Ballyengland Challenger
5th Katie James riding Moonlight Solitaire
6th Sam Mantzos riding Corntwon Tirptiz

Class 3A TGCA – Skewbald and Piebald
1st Pippa Tucker riding Big Mac
2nd Laura Barwood riding Kacl
3rd Amy Baynton riding Moss

Class 3B – TGCA – solid colours
1st Chloe Williams-Gale riding Mr Jones

Class 4A – Mountain and Moorland small breeds
1st Megan Field riding Gwithian Galliant
2nd Claire Rafferty riding Shilstone Rocks Goodey Fair
3rd Phoebe Prater riding Barkway Nureyev
4th Rachael Davis riding Anchor Gumdrop

Class 4BA – Mountain and Moorland large breeds         
1st Ruby Dodds riding Doleen Carraig Star
2nd Anneka Marlow-Dauncey riding Posbrook Missy Elliott
3rd Kirsty Edwards riding Shadowcroft Hero
4th Scarlet Kremer riding Molly Blue John
5th Helen Fuller riding Chaffcombe Gallant Lad
6th Joanna Iremonger riding Highleigh Charming

Class 5 Riding Horse/Hack
1st Sarah Walker riding Dr Cookie Monster
2nd Jessica Westwood riding Monkerty Tunkerty
3rd Fiona Campbell-Fraser riding Henton Attorney General
4th Elizabeth Hussey riding Oki Doki
5th Daisy Graffato riding Jay Bee Blue
6th Charlotte Payter riding Loriarad

Class 6 Show and Maxi Cobs
1st Vikki Swindell riding Cobmmando
2nd Victoria Cordery riding Wulfstan Evensong
3rd Jenny Chamberlain riding Currabrooks
4th Laura Edmonds riding Willobee
5th Vanessa Bianconi riding Gutchpool Renegade
6th Lucinda Davenport riding Celtic Tiger