Review of HOYS 2014
Jules Barton, Equus Blogger, concludes her two part article about HOYS 2014. You can read the first part of her review of HOYS 2014 here.
What a Finale!
Saturday and Sunday were the last two days of HOYS 2014, and what a finale. Saturday was by far the busiest day, with the Andrews Bowen Arena the fullest it had been all week. HOYS even managed to steal visitors from other events at the NEC, as I met several people who had originally come for the Grand Designs exhibition but decided to go to HOYS instead, such was the attraction.
The Osborne Refrigerators Double Harness Scurry was a favourite throughout the week.
Fast, furious and enthralling the ponies and carriages galloped through the course of cones, trying not to knock down the precariously balanced tennis balls on top of the cones (resulting in four seconds added time per ball if knocked). With the commentator's promise of 'the louder you scream, the faster they go!'
The crowd got thoroughly involved and cheered the ponies home. Indeed such was the atmosphere and captivation in the races that afterwards two girls who were sat in front of me deliberated for some time over who would drive their (imaginary) horse and carriage almost resulting in a full-blown argument.
I must admit that when I looked at the schedule for Sunday afternoon, and saw the line up of showing classes I groaned inwardly. However, yet again I was pleasantly surprised. The three smallest competitors in the Supreme Pony of the Year, ten year-old Taliah Aristidou and those on two lead-rein ponies, sat very proudly on their well turned out tiny ponies, and concentrated furiously on trotting round the brightly lit arena. Taliah's face lit up with so much joy and excitement when she was announced Champion and her pony given such enthusiastic pats and hugs that it was a delight to watch.
I also really enjoyed the Shire Horse of the Year Championship, particularly since my favourite and chosen winner (made on a know-nothing-about-Shires basis), actually won. He acknowledged his clear dominance in the class as, in response to the commentator's attestation 'we owe the Shire horse everything', Paul Bedford's Metheringham Upton Hamlet whinnied his agreement. Shires, part of Britain's heritage, are majestic animals. Stunning in their attire with their manes tied in elaborate and brightly coloured ribbons, their entrance into the arena was impressive. Although I wasn't 100% convinced about their tails, which were tied up in a manner that bared strong resemblance to a Rottweiler’s docked tail.
Enter the Household Cavalry
Of particular note are the Household Cavalry who performed every day and twice on Saturday and Sunday.
Their performance was always impressive and incorporated moves that had actually been used in the battlefield, such as standing on the horses (to look out over the trenches), lying down (enabling the 'monkey' men to go beyond enemy lines and 'disappear' in the undergrowth) etc. While they performed beautifully on the first few days, the horses were perhaps not so compliant in the ensuing performances. In one of the performances two out of the four horses lay down, and despite desperate attempts by the riders the horses remained adamant that they would not be persuaded to lie down. On another occasion one of the horses couldn't decide, and for several moments remained 'sitting' in what seemed to be a very awkward position before deciding he did in fact want to stand. Despite the hiccups they were brilliant, and if anything the disruptions made it more entertaining.
The vaulting, introduced late in the week, was a fantastic addition. The Great Britain team, number one in the world, put on an enchanting display, leaving the crowds gasping.
Show Jumping Excitement!
The show jumping proved very exciting over the weekend. Billy Twomey rode a breath-taking round on Ardcolum Duke, which proved unbeatable for the Vinopolis Speed Championship, and Nicole Pavitt, who also had a great week, won the Naylors' Equestrian Accumulator Championship. Leading Show Jumper of the Year, however, was won by Julien Epaillard, who had a fantastic two rounds on Cristallo A LM.
The main show jumping attraction was the Puissance. The wall, intimidating and formidable, started at 1.80m.
The favourite to win, Michael Hutchinson, had an unfortunate stop at the first fence taking him out of the running in Round One, despite clearing the wall with ease. Tim Stockdale, unbelievably only having ridden his horse for six weeks, retired after Round Three. Jay Halim put on a fantastic show, but at Round Four his horse backed off and Jay called it a day. Four riders left in Round Four. As each of them approached the 2.19m (7ft2) wall the audience was still and hushed, waiting with bated breath and great expectancy. One by one the riders approached the wall, and one by one the wall came down. The wall has been specifically designed to fall easily to help protect both rider and horse. Whether the top 'brick' fell or the whole wall came tumbling down, the result was the same; no one cleared Round Four. After great suspense and trepidation, the four riders, Joe Clayton, David Simpson, Charlotte Flack and Donald Whitaker came out victorious, all having cleared the wall at 2.11m (6ft11).
During the final closing ceremony on Sunday evening as we all stood for Auld Lang Syne, and the National Anthem, I couldn't help but reflect on what an exciting week this has been, and how I will definitely be back next year!
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