The Racehorse to Riding Horse conformation judge, Jennifer Williams, was pleased with the overall standard of horse in the class. “It is very refreshing for me to see a class that are all thoroughbreds. There was a very high standard of conformation and people need to appreciate the qualities of the thoroughbred”, she said. Matthew Lawrence judged the ride and was delighted with the class. “I am impressed with how much these horses have improved since the introduction of ex-racehorse classes. They are now engaging and giving good rides. They are unbelievably clean limbed, considering the amount of work that many of them have done. One had raced 58 times and still has clean legs”, he said.
A large entry of 17 horse for this popular class was split into two groups for preliminary judging to save overcrowding in the arena. First place went to Justine Armstrong Small with Beware Chalk Pit, owned by Anne Leaftley. The 11 year old gelding last ran on 12th January and was trained by Johnathan Geek, achieving two wins over fences from 27 starts. “Anne will be delighted to know that we’ve won and are going to HOYS” said Justine. Justine took the horse on in March, “He was really race fit when we got him, he didn’t really like hay, only hard feed, so it took him a while to adapt.” Justine has taken him to a local show this season, “The last show we were at they had a loud speaker and he thinks that means the start of the race. We bought another pony along this time to keep him company and it has helped keep him calm.”
This was the first time this lovely bay has had a ride judge on him, “I really didn’t know what to expect of him, this is only his second show.” Now he has qualified, Justine plans to not do too much for the rest of the summer, “he’s got such a good temperament, I think he’ll be fine at HOYS.”
Second place went to Mark Youngs, from Oulton Broad, and Rockley Beach, owned by Margret Brightwells. Mark has ridden the 16 year old gelding for the last 6 years but this is their first season of showing, “We’ve done some unaffiliated dressage and local shows. We went to the qualifier at Stretcholt and got placed fourth so this is really exciting. This was our ultimate goal this season, I didn’t expect to qualify with all the professionals in the class.”
Mark has ridden since he was 3 years old and did gymkhanas and show jumping as a child. He is now an equine dentist and rides Rocky around his work, “He doesn’t need much work, just twice a week to keep him going.” Mark has never been to HOYS before, but is confident Rocky will rise to the challenge, “He’ll love HOYS, he likes the format and being indoors, so I think he’ll cope well. All my friends have gone to HOYS, I’m the only one who hasn’t, so this is great.”
1st Beware Chalk Pit, owned by Ann Leaftley and ridden by Justine Armstrong-Small of Upshire, Essex
2nd Rockley, owned and ridden by Mark Youngs of Oulton Broad