Freda Newton’s five-year-old Irish Sport Horse Ebony King displayed wisdom beyond his years to impress the judges and claim the prestigious Small Show Hunter of the Year Championship title ahead of 28 starters on his debut appearance here at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).
Bought from Dublin last year, where he stood Small Champion as a four-year-old, the black gelding by Aughabeg Patch was then turned away until just before Christmas. He competed in unaffiliated show jumping and arena eventing over the winter with rider James Munro, before contesting the showing circuit this season.
“It went really well today,” said James. “He’s like an older horse and takes it all in his stride.” He continued: “If he was a person he’d be quite shy, but in the ring he sits up and owns it… He’s also the comfiest horse to sit on.”
The HOYS title is a fitting end to a very successful year for the horse, with a third at the Royal International and Champion Hunter title at the Royal Highland also in the bag.
And it certainly made the team’s five day journey down to Birmingham’s NEC worthwhile. “We are based just south of John O’Groats, so we left on Saturday and stayed two days in Carlisle to give the horses a rest,” said James.
The Small Show Hunter of the Year is one of the oldest classes here at HOYS, with the first class taking place back in 1954.
James and Ebony King will return to the Andrews Bowen International Arena on Sunday night to contest the Ripon Select Foods Supreme Horse of the Year title with all other Champion horses from throughout the week.