Day one of Horse of the Year (HOYS) show got off to a flying start with dreams fulfilled, tears of joy, and some thrilling action.
Chloe Winchester won the prestigious Talent Seekers showjumping class with Sportsfield Our Clare, owned by Jo West. She was the first to go in the jump off and produced a fast clear to win by 1.39 seconds.
Chloe has ridden ‘Petal’ since she was five and used to event the mare, but said she was too hot. The 10-year-old then had a foal last year and returned to showjumping this season.
“I’m over the moon,” said Chloe. “There was a bit of pressure going first, but I thought I would do as much as I could and it worked out today. I know that if push her she will do whatever she can to jump for me.
“She’s only just come back to jumping and this is where we’ve ended up. It really is a dream come true.”
Louise Saywell finished in second place riding Mac Uwe, and landed the 7 Year Old Champion title, which is included in the Talent Seeker class.
In showing, prolific HOYS winner Jayne Ross rode Time 2 Reflect to victory in the Ladies Side Saddle Championship.
“It is a wonderful way to start the week,” said Jayne. “The pressure is off now and you can actually enjoy what has been a wonderful win. The horse has had the most fantastic year, and she has just finished it off perfectly.
“The Horse of the Year Show never loses its magic. You put so much effort into it – nearly three-quarters of the year is taken up with actually trying to get here. So once you get here, you have got to produce the goods.”
Another star of the showring was Thistledown Van-Der-Vaart, who won the Brineton Colne Mountain & Moorland Mini Pony Championship for the third year running.
Emotions were high in the SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse Championship, as Ann Leftley’s 13-year-old Beware Chalk Pit took the honours. ‘Pete’ won more than £9,500 during his racing career, and ran his last race just two years ago.
The Cuddy Working Hunter went to Daniel Brian Carroll and Red Why Salute. The beautifully designed course proved tricky for many, but the pair made it look effortless.
The evening performance was made extra-special with the 2017 Equestrian of the Year presentation, which was awarded to Team GB Para-dressage rider Sophie Wells.