Horse of the Year Show 2014 So Far...

Jules Barton, Equus blogger, writes about her visit this year to HOYS 2014.

This is my first time at the Horse of the Year Show and I wasn't too sure what to expect.  Going for the full day is long but fun, starting at 7am and finishing at 11pm.  There are must-see performances, breath-taking competitions and enough shops to keep any shopaholic (and their wallet) occupied.

Of the performances, there are a few of particular note.  Perhaps most entertaining has been the Virbac 3D Worming Mounted Games, a fantastic performance from the Pony Club.  Ranging from bean bags, flags and pink worms (kids dressed in worm onesies), to dragons and damsels in distress, the kids throw everything they've got into the competitions.  Friday's competition included delivering bottles of milk to the 'milkman', who then escorted the cow (three children in a cow outfit) to the finish line; quite enchanting, and hilarious to watch.

While showing is perhaps not my thing, I've gained a new appreciation for it over the last few days.  Adorable and mischievous, foals in the collecting ring are great entertainers; rearing up at their handlers or running away with them certainly kept me interested.  The Miniature Horse of the Year Championship; miniature horses are cute, boisterous, and at times outright demanding but are nonetheless delightful to watch. 

My passion is show jumping so my attention has been predominantly focussed on the show jumping competitions.  The level has been high both in terms of the actual fences and also the riders, with many of the big names competing.  Thursday saw a thrilling round from Jude Burgess on Carvelo Z who won the Horse & Hound Senior Foxhunter Championship.  David Wills then went on to win the Sky Sports Trophy with Julien Epaillard a close second and Rob Whitaker just behind in third place.

The jumping really started to heat up on Friday.  The Horse Radar Stakes set the tone of the day when James Smith powered through the one-round competition in what seemed like an unbeatable time (speed is of the essence).  Minutes later, Nicole Pavitt entered the arena on Victor Blue and unbelievably took the lead.  Next in, John Whitaker, the suspense was palpable.  In an exhilarating round, John Whitaker flew over the course on Lord Of Arabia, stealing the show and placing them firmly in first place.

Proving equally as tense, if not more so, was the Suregrow Five Fence Challenge; five fences that increase in height per round, a point based system where riders have to go clear to enter the next round.  Three riders entered Round Four with fences as high as 1.70m and as wide as 1.90m.  With Cian O'Connor and Graham Lovegrove out after fence two, only Billy Twomey was left to go.  Billy Twomey on Royale Du Rouet very calmly entered the arena and cleared all five fences in a sensational round that had the audience going crazy.

Finally, on Friday night: the Grandstand Trophy.  A jump-off with a twist!  For all those clear in the first round, seven jumping efforts including one double must be jumped, but which fences, and the order, was up to the riders.  The majority followed the fast route set by William Funnel at the beginning of the jump-off with varying degrees of success.  Trevor Breen however threw the riders into disarray with a completely new route.  In an electrifying round, Trevor Breen and the one-eyed wonder Adventure De Kannan knocked a full 2.5 seconds off the quickest time, ultimately winning the final event of the evening. 

As today's events draw to a close, I'm getting more and more excited about the Puissance this evening!

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