Ponies and Riders Shine in HOYS Qualifiers

Tuesday 21 May 2024

Ponies and Riders Shine in HOYS Qualifiers

This weekend, Arena UK hosted the first Enablelink 128cm HOYS Qualifier and the first Equine Rescue Services 138cm HOYS Qualifier. Riders and their ponies were not only jumping for the win but also vying for their ticket to the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) final in October.

First up on Saturday was the Enablelink 128cm Qualifier, featuring a competitive field of 40 riders. Course builder Neil Foster's challenging 12-fence first round saw 11 ponies advance with clear rounds. The jump-off was fiercely contested, with nine riders striving for the top spot and the coveted HOYS qualification.

In this hard-fought class, only two combinations managed to finish clear. Amy Capper set an early benchmark on Dooneen’s Electric with the first triple clear. However, it was Annabel Widdowson, one of the youngest competitors at just nine years old, who delivered the standout performance of the day. Riding Bunbury Conquest, Annabel clocked an impressive 38.75 seconds, outpacing Amy by a remarkable 6.19 seconds to secure first place.

"She jumped an incredible final jump-off; the final fence was a very up-to-height 1.20m that only three cleared. It was so big you couldn’t see Questie's [Bunbury Conquest] ears. Annabel held her nerve well," said Annabel’s mum, Kathleen.

"We were pleased that she qualified, but she was over the moon to have won the class and is looking forward to the final. She stayed cool under pressure, even though there is a lot of expectation on her at such a young age, especially after finishing second at HOYS last year and winning at Hickstead. I couldn’t watch!"

Bunbury Conquest, one of the oldest ponies in the field at 23, continues to be a crowd favourite. "He’s a very special pony, and he’s still feeling good. He’s done everything for her," Kathleen added.

Sunday saw the 138cm ponies take to the ring for the Equine Rescue Services 138cm Qualifier. 47 starters for round one, became eight for the final jump off, where Emily Gulliver piloted a fast and clear round to take the top spot with Fantastik Du Rieu. Crossing the finish line at 43.24 seconds, Emily clinched the win by 1.66 seconds ahead of runner-up Christina Cotton and her ride Harefield Diego.

A huge congratulations to all the riders and ponies who competed this weekend. We look forward to seeing the qualified riders compete at the HOYS final in October.

NB: Results pending official grading.

Image: ATG Photography

 
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