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Burghley 2016

SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse showcases Thoroughbreds in the main arena at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials

Strong winds and a spooky atmosphere did little to deter the nineteen entries in the final Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) qualifier of the SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse series, held in the main arena on Sunday at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. The strong field showcased ex-racehorses who have come from the ‘also-ran’ end of the spectrum through to those who had won a considerable amount in their former career, and many of the entries have boasted remarkable versatility in their post-racing careers.

The much-lauded Jack the Giant, under Allister Hood, took the top spot and one of two tickets to HOYS, repeating his 2014 victory in this class. Formerly trained by Barry Hills on the flat and Nicky Henderson over fences, the 13-year-old gelding gave a polished performance under threatening skies, demonstrating the depth of maturity that he has gained in the three years that Allister has had the ride.

“He’s a very intelligent horse, so therefore he’s always been very good to work with,” said Allister. “He’s quite a character — he’s quite sharp, and sometimes he was unsure of what to do, but with a little gentle persuasion and a little bit of encouragement, we got there.”

Jack the Giant is owned, unusually, by a syndicate. The Jackpots Syndicate was formed after Nicky Henderson’s partner Sophie Waddilove suggested to Allister that the horse might be successful in the show ring. Now she and the six other owners — all of whom met at Pony Club — share in the spoils of Jack the Giant’s considerable success in the ring.

“It’s all worked really nicely for us, everyone’s had a really good time, and it’s given him a marvellous career after racing,” said Allister.

Her Majesty the Queen’s 14-year-old Barbers Shop continued his strong season with Katie Jerram when he was pulled in second in the final line-up, reaffirming his class after qualifying for the final at HOYS at a qualifier at Stretcholt Equestrian Centre on 12 June. The gelding, by Saddlers Hall, will contest both the SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse final and the Side-Saddle Championship at HOYS.

“Realistically between now and then I’m going to spend a lot of time with the side-saddle on — that’s what he needs to do. He’s got used to my leg each side now, and going down long-and-low, and now he’s just got to get prepared for the side-saddle judge,” said Katie. “Astride, he’s very responsive and he knows his job very well. I won’t change his routine — we just have to keep doing what we’re doing, really.”

As the last horse bred by the Queen Mother, Barbers Shop holds a special place in his owner’s heart, but he quickly won Katie over with his personality and talent.

“He’s a charming gentleman. He did find standing very difficult in his first two years, and we spent quite a lot of time calming him down and being very laid back about it. He had a lot of apples and sweets to keep him calm. Now he’s learned to just do it, but we don’t fuss him too much. We just keep him as chilled as possible.”

The second HOYS ticket went to third-placed Wild West, ridden by owner Lizzie Harris. Lizzie, a former amateur jockey, trains point-to-pointers, and ‘Westy’ is her sole show horse. Formerly trained by Jonjo O’Neill, the chestnut gelding was ridden by AP McCoy before being taken over by Lizzie, with whom he has since hunted, team chased, and shown both astride and side-saddle. This will be the horse’s second year contesting the final at HOYS, in which he placed sixth in 2015.

“To come out again and do it is something special. Last year we came out and thought ‘let’s hope’ — this year, we thought ‘we’ve done it once, let’s do it again’,” said Lizzie, who balances her yard of nine pointers with showing Wild West and with new motherhood. Having had a baby in June, she commended the horse’s consistency, which allowed her to get back in the saddle with confidence: “he can be sharp but I know him now, I know what to do and when to do it, as long as we keep the child out of the way of him! A few people have asked if he’s up for sale, but because I can just get on him I’d never part with him. He’s not easy, but for me, he’s perfect.”

Jane Hubbard took on the role of ride judge, giving spectators a masterclass in tactfully riding unfamiliar horses in trying conditions, and top show judge, former Senior Selector and experienced racing steward the Honourable Hopper Cavendish assessed conformation. The class was stewarded by David Ingle, Gary Morton, and Charles Wilkinson.

Final results:

1st: Jack the Giant, owned by the Jackpots Syndicate and ridden by Allister Hood from Diss, Norfolk.
2nd: Barbers Shop, owned by Her Majesty the Queen and ridden by Katie Jerram from Great Dunmow, Essex.
3rd: Wild West, owned and ridden by Lizzie Harris from Waltham, Leicestershire.
4th: Hero Worship, owned and ridden by Abigail Sole from Shipley, West Sussex.
5th: Allied Answer, owned by Dannii Thexton and ridden by Anne Wilson
6th: Awesome Freddie, owned and ridden by Samantha Wallin from Weston Subedge, Gloucestershire

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