The final qualifier for the 2013 South Essex Insurance Brokers Search For A Star championship took place at Vale View Equestrian Centre on Sunday 11 August, and 146 entries gave judges, Richard Ramsay (conformation), David Bartram (ride) and Samantha Osbourne (assistant ride) plenty to think about.

Working hunter
The course proved to be spooky for no apparent reason and caused several problems for the 9 entries, resulting in just 1 clear and 2 with only 1 pole down to go forward to the final judging. First place went to Vasco, owned and ridden by Emma McPhail, 21, from Chesterfield. Emma has owed the 11 year old KWPN gelding, known as Alfie at home, for 6 years and has previously focussed only on show jumping. The pair now jump at Foxhunter level and have qualified for the Scope Show Jumping finals. “This is our first attempt at showing”, said a surprised Emma. “The Scope final is on grass, so we went to a local show and did the working hunter to practice jumping on grass. The judge suggested that we give this a go, but I never thought we would get to HOYS”, she explained. After a crash course in showing, Emma took Alfie to Vale View and their jumping experience paid off, giving them the only clear round. Emma is a 4th year medical student at Birmingham University and is only able to ride at the weekends. During the week, Alfie is looked after by her mum, Margaret, who does all the chores but does not ride, and dad, Andy, who helps on show days by doing the driving. “I have really enjoyed it. I will continue show jumping but now we will do some more working hunter classes as well, and focus on the preparation for HOYS. It’s brilliant to have qualified! There will be lots of medics present to give support”, said Emma.

Second place went to Hannah Carpenter from Worksop riding her own Paulien. Hannah, 38, has owned the 16 year old chestnut mare since she was a 7 year old, having bought her through a friend. She was living in Scotland at the time and did some novice working hunter and ridden hunter classes at county level. “We had a foal from her, which is now a 2 year old and came second in a young event prospect class”, said Hannah. Paulien and Hannah have been placed in several novice classes, finishing 5th in the novice working hunter at Derby County Show, 6th in the novice hunters at Newark & Notts Show and 5th in the Amateur hunter class at the Festival of Hunting. “I have been on a HOYS campaign, and thought we should try SFAS as there are no professionals, and it has paid off. My daughter, Megan, got me into showing. She has been showing her welsh section D and doing well, and she persuaded me to give it a go!” said Hannah, whose partner, Carl, is also involved as groom on show days. “She jumped really well today. She is strong, so she is not easy, but she loves jumping. She is by the stallion, Burrgraaf, who was known for his jumping. I am so happy with this result, it’s fabulous. You put in a lot of work and it is just so nice when something good comes out of it!”, said a delighted Hannah.

Riding Club Show Horse
14 entries tackled the trotting poles and two fences, which caused few problems, with 10 horses remaining for the second phase of the judging. First place went to Briardale Solidarity, ridden by Beth Russell, 18, and owned by her mother, Avril Russell, from Thorngumbald, East Yorkshire. They have owned the 9 year old bay gelding, known as “Sol”, for 2 years and he has done a bit of everything. Beth and Sol are members of the Holderness Hunt Pony Club and represented their branch in the eventing and show jumping teams this year, finishing 8th at the Pony Club Area Eventing competition. Beth also has a traditional coloured show cob that she competes at county level. “We just came along to have a go and didn’t expect to qualify. I am so pleased with him”, said Beth. “They did the working hunter class as well, but I think it takes a couple of classes to clear the nerves”, said Avril. “This was to be their last competition together as Beth is going to work as a groom for the Heythrop Hunt”. Sol will stay at home with Avril when Beth moves away, and he will be ridden by friends. “He is Beth’s first horse after moving from ponies, and he has given her so much confidence. He is so easy; it is a big jump from ponies on to horses but he is lovely”, she added. “I will take time off for HOYS, I have waited for long enough to get to go”, said Beth.

Second place went to Dorrells Balisardo, known as “Bally”, owned and ridden by Samantha Williams, 27, from Milton Keynes. Sam has owned the 10 year old bay gelding since he was a 3 year old, backing and bringing him on herself. He evented as a 5 year old and has show jumped up to discovery level, with numerous wins and places. They have also competed in dressage and recently stood reserve champion at the Trailblazers Preliminary Senior Championship. “He really is an all-rounder and has done a bit of everything. We thought we would try something different so we had a go at some ridden warmblood and working hunter type show classes. We were a last minute entry and qualifying for HOYS didn’t even cross my mind!” said a delighted Sam.

Riding Horse/Hack
A large class saw the lovely Hack, Touch Ov Hawkesbury take the top spot for owner/rider Melissa Barnett, 22, from Manchester. Known as “Mikey” at home, Melissa has owned the 5 year old bay gelding since he was a 3 year old. “I bought him from his breeder, Sue Chappell, with a view to showing. He is by Comberton Cadet out of a thoroughbred cross mare”, explained Melissa, who backed him and brought him on herself. This is their first year doing affiliated showing and they have competed mainly in novice intermediate show riding type classes, winning the novice show riding type at Cheshire County Show and the Open Show Riding Type and standing champion at the Derbyshire Festival, earning a place in the Sporting Sam Supreme championship. “It is good grounding for him. We have been taking our time. This is his first time in a Hack class, and I hope that he will progress to open Hack classes eventually”, said Melissa, who plans to do the British Show Pony Society Summer Championships and “plenty of preparation before HOYS”. “This was the first time he has had a ride judge, and I am ecstatic at the result. As long as he behaves – he is very mannerly and so good to do at home. I can clip him without a headcollar, he really has no quirks”, said Melissa’s mum, Sarah. Melissa has 3 horses at home, including a coloured riding horse and a small hunter, and she works hard with the support of her family to fit everything in around her full time job as a sales and marketing manager at a national security firm. Melissa and her dad, Andy, muck out before going to work, and then her mum, Sarah, who works shifts, rides the horses when Melissa is at work. “Everyone gets involved. Melissa’s sister, Vicky, was roped in to get Mikey used to having a ride judge, and Andy did the quarter marks”, said Sarah.

Second place went to Rebecca Jones, 36, from Wrexham, riding her own Poppy. Rebecca has owned the 7 year old thoroughbred chestnut mare for 15 months, and bought her with the intention of doing show classes. “I wanted to get to HOYS before I was 40”, said a delighted Rebecca after the class. Before the Vale View qualifier, the pair had competed at mainly local shows, doing well at this level. “I bought him from Emma Jane Du Jardin and he had been turned away, so we needed to get out and about”, explained Rebecca. “We did some dressage over the winter, and generally just mouched about! Then we did SFAS at Osbaldeston in the spring and came 5th, so we came here to try again”. Next year she plans to move up a gear and start showing at County level. Rebecca works as a full time beautician but as her work is mobile or from home, she is able to fit in riding with work. “She is the most laid back thing you have ever met. She takes everything in her stride. I was lucky enough to be able to have her on 6 months trial and she was fab. She has come on in leaps and bounds and I am really looking forward to taking her to HOYS. This was my dream”, she said.

A strong field of 16 was headed by Natasha Smith’s Ruthven, known as “Molly” at home. Natasha, 25, from Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire, has owned the 12 year old bay mare for 4 years, having bought her from a friend. Molly is a warmblood x thoroughbred by the stallion, Rabinowitz and her dam was Newton Follie. The mare had been turned out in a field and had done very little, so Natasha started working on her and now they do everything. They were members of the East Midlands team at the Riding Clubs National Horse Trials Championships, finishing 16th as a team and Natasha and Molly finished 12th individual. Next year they plan to start eventing at BE level. “We will do more local shows and unaffiliated working hunter classes, and the Newark & Notts county show which I like to support”, said Natasha, who works as a groom on a private family yard. “She is fab and I can do anything with her. She is my best friend”, she said. “I decided to have a go at showing and I saw SFAS on the internet”. The pair went to the qualifiers at Osbaldeston and Bury Farm but needed to improve. “I have worked on what the judges suggested, and it seems to have worked! I was determined to give it a good try”, said Natasha, who has lessons with Ann and Alwyn Varley.

Second place went to Brookpark Sovereign, known as “Corky” at home by owner and rider, Tanya Norlander, 53, from Martin, Cheshire. Tanya bought the 6 year old chestnut gelding 12 months ago when she was looking for a heavyweight show horse. This year the pair have competed at Cheshire Show and the Aintree Festival, where they stood second in the heavyweight hunter class and qualified for the Royal International Horse Show and also won the amateur class. They were second at Nantwich and then won at Bakewell, also earning a place at HOYS in the open hunter class. “I will only do the Search For A Star class at HOYS. He still needs some time to mature and I think this will be better for him. We have done lots of work at home, as he could be a bit tricky, but Danny Carrol has given us lots of help”, said Tanya, who will take him to Anglesea and Ashbourne shows before heading to HOYS. “Then he might do a bit of cubbing and go hunting a couple of times. He is full of character and he has done very well to get here. This is unbelievable”, said Tanya, who is a full time dairy farmer’s wife.

Another good entry for the Cob class saw 10 entries forward. Amanda Dale’s Rocket Ronnie headed the class, ridden by Sammy Crowe, 23 from Market Rasen. Sammy took on the ride from Amanda 2 years ago to help out. “Amanda bought him to show and hack out, but he can get quite full of himself and I helped Amanda to sort him out”, explained Sammy, who runs an eventing yard and brings on young event horses. “We did SFAS 2 years ago and the judges liked him a lot, but they did not like the ride, so it is really nice to be pulled in top today – all the hard work has paid off”, said Sammy, who also competes Ronnie in pure dressage at elementary level. They have had several wins both showing and dressage, and this year they won the cob class at Reevesby Show for the 4th year running. “He likes to try it on a bit, but this suits him very well. He can be a bit spooky, but the judges seem to like him when he is like that – he always gets the best marks in dressage when he is a bit full of himself”, added Sammy. “Amanda is keen for him to do showing, and likes being there as his owner, and it is a really nice change for me. I can’t believe we have qualified for HOYS, its just not something I had thought about!”

Second place went to Melanie Lawless with her 6 year old coloured gelding, Fosters Boy. This is the second time Melanie has attended a SFAS qualifier, having already qualified with her riding horse, Donna Duero, at Bury Farm. “I never thought he would qualify, I just came along for some experience. Now I have a difficult decision to make”, she said, as the SFAS rules only allow one HOYS entry per competitor. Melanie, from Beanacre, Wiltshire, has owned “Hector” as he is known at home, since he was a 4 year old, having bought him from Val Sheehan and Camilla Neame. “Unusually, he has an Irish passport, so I have been in touch with his breeder. I wanted something that was athletic but not too strong or sharp. He fits the bill and does a bit of everything. He does some dressage and a friend jumps him. He has qualified for the British Show Horse Association grass roots championship at Addington”, explained Melanie, who works full time for the NHS but manages to fit in doing the horses around work. “He is very sweet natured and easy. People like him – he is like a little sport horse in a cob body. We recently decided to see if he would do flying changes over a pole in the school, and after a couple of times he could do it. He learns really quickly”. Melanie made an overnight decision to take “Hector” to the final at Horse of the Year Show, and now plans to do a few more shows, including the BSHA national championships, before heading to HOYS.

The ponies were judged by Richard Ramsey and Chris Lawson. First place went to Fielden Rumba, known as “George”, owned and ridden by Sammi Hancox, 18, from Chesterfield. Sammi got the 6 year old bay gelding as a just backed 3 year old, and has brought him on herself. “He has done loads of BSPS show classes, and was supreme champion at the Equestrian Life championships as a 4 year old”, explained Sammi, who qualified him in SFAS last year but was unable to go to HOYS as “George” got a chest infection before the finals. They did compete at the Cherif Championships and came 4th in strong competition. “I bought him as a bit of a project, and he has done everything I wanted. He will be sold after HOYS so that I can concentrate on my Welsh Section C working hunter pony, and my 15hh worker”, said Sammi, who has just finished 6th form and will be starting at Nottingham Trent University in September to study for a sport horse management degree.

Second place went to Mathemadam Royal Ensign, ridden by Morgan Milner, 12, and owned by his mother, Janine Milner, from East Holton, north east Lincolnshire. The Milners bought the 6 year old chestnut gelding 18 months ago with the intention of showing. Morgan and “Flag” as he is known at home, have competed at Equifest and BSPS shows. They won the BSPS Show Hunter Pony and championship at Newark and Notts Show, and have also won two Timberwolf Ponies UK classes. Last year they got through to the evening performance at Equifest. “He can be quite cheeky, and he is very grumpy when he is eating his dinner, but mostly he is very laid back”, said Janine. “Morgan’s Grandma always comes to shows, she never misses them, but today she had to collect someone from the airport and I can’t get through to tell her”, she added. “Getting through to HOYS is just brilliant. She [Grandma] is going to be so mad she missed it”, said a delighted Morgan, a pupil at the Oasis Academy at Immingham.


These are the class results, 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, Vasco, owned and ridden by Emma McPhail of Chesterfield, Derbyshire
2nd, Paulien, owned and ridden by Hannah Carpenter of Rotherham, South Yorkshire

Riding Club Show Horse
1st, Briardale Solidarity, owned by Avril Russell and ridden by Beth Leanne Russell of Hull, East Yorkshire
2nd, Dorrells Balisardo, owned and ridden by Samantha Williams of Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire

Riding Horse Hack
1st , Touch Ov Hawkesbury, owned and ridden by Melissa Barnett of Failsworth, Manchester
2nd, Poppy, owned and ridden by Rebecca Jones of Ponciau, Wrexham

Show Hunter
1st, Ruthven, owned and ridden by Natasha Smith of Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire
2nd, Brookpark Sovereign, owned and ridden by Tanya Norlander of Macclesfield, Cheshire

1st, Rocket Ronnie, owned by Amanda Dale and ridden by Samantha Crowe of Market Rasen, Lincolnshire
2nd, Foster’s Boy, owned and ridden by Melanie Lawless of Beanacre, Wiltshire

1st, Fielden Rumba, owned by Maria Hancox and ridden by Sammi Hancox of Wadshelf, Chesterfield
2nd, Mathemadam Royal Ensign, owned by Janine Milner and ridden by Morgan Milner of East Halton, North Lincolnshire