The halfway stage for the 2018 SEIB Insurance Brokers Search for a Star qualifiers took place at Bury Farm Equestrian Centre, Buckinghamshire on the 10th June. Search for a Star goes from strength to strength and there were plenty of entries at this Southern/Central venue. Many of the riders that qualified for HOYS at Bury Farm had attended Search for a Star previously and decided to give qualifying another go. One of the SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse competitors has been coming to the qualifiers for the past four seasons before gaining her long-awaited HOYS ticket at Bury Farm.
Estate Agent, Katie Baldwin had great cause to celebrate when her second trip to Search for a Star resulted in a win with her Welsh Cob x Cleveland Bay x TB, Moelfryn Golden Wonder, in the working horse class. Katie said: “I can’t quite believe it, I never thought that I would be riding at HOYS!” Katie and ‘Crispy’ attended the same Search for a Star class at this qualifier a year ago and took second place. She continued: “We said it had to be worth another go this year and it definitely was. I bought Crispy four years ago and Search for a Star is the first time we have had a go at showing.” The pair have had a busy spring season and last month finished in 38th place in the Badminton Grassroots Championships.
The winner of the working pony class at Bury Farm has also been out competing in eventing this spring. Dinah Smith was thrilled with her Connemara pony, Culmore JJ. She said: “It hasn’t sunk in yet. We went to the Search for a Star qualifier at Stretcholt a few weeks ago – the day after competing in the Riding Club Championships – and we came second. The Stretcholt Search for a Star was going to be the only one we did, but we then decided to come to Bury Farm with a day off beforehand!” 61-year-old Dinah has spent her life in different parts of Europe with her Army officer husband. She continued: “My husband was based in Germany and Belgium and the horses I had simply moved with us. It was always a brilliant way to make friends in a new place. My husband retired to the UK before I bought JJ as a four-year-old and so he has always lived in the UK, although he did come from Scotland. We will go to the Search for a Star training day as neither of us has ever done anything like this before.” Dinah and JJ compete in all spheres including Riding Club, British Showjumping and British Eventing.
Two homebreds did very well in the riding horse hack class at Bury Farm. Competing at HOYS was a childhood dream for 46-year-old Debbie Fitzpatrick who bred her dark-bay gelding, Atlantic Flight, known as Indie, from her jumper mare. She said: “It just hasn’t sunk in at all that we are actually going to be off to HOYS. When he was a young horse, I jumped Indie but he was not very well behaved. I decided he either had to be sold, or we would find something else to do. We then competed in dressage classes and qualified for the regionals a few times, but it all got pretty expensive and then two-years-ago a friend suggested showing.” Debbie works as a bank manager at the Redditch branch of Lloyds. This has created some other opportunities for Indie. Debbie continued: “Indie has helped out with some internal publicity for Lloyds. He is very dark bay, so I have blackened out his white bits and put a rug on him and he looks pretty black. Initially he was meant to be outside the branch, but then the photographer suggested he should go inside. He was as good as gold and has done this three times now and been in the local paper and on Lloyds’ Twitter and Facebook. As my husband said, for a supposed jumping horse, he seems to spend all his time as a model or Billy Elliott!”
The other homebred to do well in the riding horse hack class was Rachel Holmes’, Piper’s Royal Sonata. Rachael said: “We came to a couple of Search for a Star classes last year and got some great feedback from the judges. We have gone and done our homework over the winter and held back a bit this spring, but I am so pleased that we are now seeing a huge improvement in the way Darcy is going. This was only our second show this year. Darcy is now 6-years-old and he was bred as a one off from very special rescue mare that I had who very sadly died 8 months after Darcy was born.” Rachael and Darcy also compete in endurance riding and have done plenty of pleasure rides. Rachael fits in looking after and riding Darcy around her job as a textiles design manager. She added: “I design textiles for medical supplies. We make made to measure compression suits for patients. Before I explain exactly what I do, people always ask if I make bandages or nurses outfits!”
Another rider for whom HOYS has been a long-term goal won the hunter class at Bury Farm. Roberta Baston and her own King Clover’s Pride took the class having attended Search for a Star 3-years-ago to finish 6th. Roberta said: “When we came to Search for a Star before, Richard Ramsay said that Walter needed some time to build up and that we should come back. To be off to HOYS is the ultimate prize to me. I bought Walter when he was 7 and quite skinny looking, we have worked really hard to get going over the years.” Roberta works as a school caterer, she continued: “The kids at school will be delighted to hear that we are off to HOYS. They quite often ask on a Monday how we have got on showing over the weekend.”
Also qualifying in the hunters was Francesca Ovens with her grey gelding Fernanzo. This pair predominantly compete in showjumping and working hunter classes. Francesca said: “We went to the Stretcholt Search for a Star qualifier and came 6th in the working horse, so we decided to come here and give the hunter class a go. He went really well and it is very exciting to have qualified for HOYS. I will try to get a bit more condition on Fernanzo over the summer in the lead up to HOYS”. Francesca and Fernanzo have also qualified for the Royal International Horse Show in the Working Hunter class and the pair compete at newcomers level in showjumping. She continued: “My five-year-old daughter is delighted that I have qualified for HOYS and is also keen to qualify herself in the lead-rein class with her Dartmoor pony. We will give it a go!”
There were some great entries in the new SEIB Search for a Star Mountain and Moorland qualifier at Bury Farm. This class is brand new this year and the final will be held at Your Horse Live at Stoneleigh in November.
Taking top spot at Bury Farm was Hanna Garner with Margaret Burrows’, Winwood Tigers Eye. This Welsh section D gelding is very lucky to be alive following a bout of severe laminitis in 2015. Hanna who works for Margaret at her Sandridge Bury Riding School and Livery yard said: “It means so much to us all that Tigger is going to be off to Your Horse Live. He was nearly put down in early 2015 as his laminitis was so severe. The vet said to feed him 15kg of hay a day, I misunderstood and soaked the hay before weighing it so Tigger was being fed really very little. The vet then said it was this that saved his life.” Tigger is now going from strength to strength, but he has a very strict daily routine and lives in at night, is exercised in the morning, and then goes out for three hours in the afternoon with a muzzle on. Hanna added: “Our feed manufacturers have been brilliant when it comes to Tigger’s feed, any problems and we ring them straightaway. We basically treat Tigger like a diabetic and he has to have feed that will give him energy but that is completely sugar-free. He has the biggest personality in the world and there is already a plan in place to hire a coach for all the supporters from the yard to come down to Stoneleigh to watch him at the final.”
Victoria Oliver’s Fell pony, Greenholme Falcon took the runner up spot with Victoria’s 13-year-old daughter, Chantelle Chapman. This is Chantelle’s first year showing having spent previous seasons grooming at shows for Victoria and her hunter. Greenholme Falcon – who is known at home as Dan – has been owned by Victoria since last August. Victoria said: “Chantelle was over the moon when the Search for a Star M & M class was brought out this year, she wanted to have a go straightaway! Chantelle works so hard with Dan doing everything herself, schooling him and keeping him looking tip-top. She is very excited about the finals at Your Horse Live and it is her dream to one day be able to compete at HOYS with Dan. I am sure with all the hard work and determination they will get there.” Chantelle attends Manningtree High School
Taking the final qualifying spot in the M & M’s was Laura Kemp with her New Forest, Buttslawn Merlin. Laura who works as a Product and Marketing Executive for a Promotional Merchandising Company said: “I never expected to qualify, my original goal for this year was to get out more frequently, get some experience and some miles round the ring. As a team Merlin and I have exceeded our goal and I am beaming with pride for him. I am super excited to be heading down to Stoneleigh for the final.” It has not all been plain sailing for Laura who has owned Merlin since September 2015. She had a fall from another horse not long after Merlin arrived with her, she said: “I had broken my arm and lost all my confidence. Merlin and I struggled to work together as a team for the following 12 months. I then broke the same arm again from a horse pulling away from me in the field and had the arm operated on in early 2017. By May 2017 I was finally back in the saddle and we have managed to come out fighting fit and confident for our 2018 showing season. Never would I have believed anyone if they told me I would qualify for Search for a Star at Your Horse Live this year!
Sports therapist and BHS riding coach, Samantha Gifford-Brown won the cob class with her grey gelding, Swiper to qualify for the HOYS final. Samantha has owned ‘Percy’ since he was an unbroken three-year-old. She said: “Percy is such good fun and it is great to have qualified for HOYS. We competed in Search for a Star when he was a young horse and he just wasn’t strong enough. We then had another go last year, but I had broken ribs and neither of us was on top form. It is a lovely feeling to have now got our ticket!” Samantha trained in sports therapy with Mary Bromley in Devon and now combines her business, SGB Equine Massage with teaching the West Kent Meopham Pony Club and competing Percy.
Taking second place in the Cob class was Katie Staniland riding her own, Irish Diamond Rose. Katie said: “I go to watch at HOYS every year and always watch the Search for a Star finals. I am really looking forward to it and just can’t wait! Katie bought Rosie as a four-year-old and during their 5 years together they have done plenty of different things. Katie continued: “I bought her to mainly show and hunt but also as a fun allrounder to do everything on. She really has turned out to be the best all-round show horse you could ask for, she shows all summer and hunts all winter. For the last four years I have shown her as a small hunter and done really well. Now she has matured, last winter we decided to hog her and turn her into a maxi cob. She has really come into our own this year and turning her into a maxi cob has certainly paid off.”
SEIB have this season been supporting some vital research being carried out by the Animal Health Trust into fractures in thoroughbred horses. This research has established a link between DNA and likelihood of fracture and work is now well underway into developing a simple DNA test to determine whether a horse is at risk of fracture. Debbie Guest from the AHT was at Bury Farm to take DNA samples from thoroughbreds that have finished their careers sound. She said: “I managed to get cheek swabs from 19 horses that were competing in the SEIB classes at Bury Farm. This takes my current total for the project to 263 control (non-fractured) horses. I was aiming to get 300 horses, so this is really great. All of the owners who I approached at Bury Farm were happy for me to take samples from their horses which was very kind of them as they were all busy at the show. I was very grateful for their time. Each horse takes around 5 minutes to sample, so it is fairly quick.” Debbie will also be attending the two further qualifiers for the SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse finals at Vale View Equestrian Centre on the 5th August and Burghley on the 2nd September. Debbie continued: “I am really looking forward to attending the next two shows to hopefully reach our target in the sample collection and also to meet more of the owners and horses that are helping with the project.”
The winner of the SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse class was Abi Sole and her very popular 15-year-old, Hero Worship. Abi said; “I am super thrilled to be going to HOYS, it has been a long-time coming. He is such a great little horse.” This is the fourth year that the pair have campaigned in the SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse qualifiers. Abi continued: “This was always going to be the last year that we were going to give qualifying a go. He has been at the top of his game with the showing for four years now since we won the Novice RoR Championship back in 2014. He gave me the best ride at Bury Farm and the judge Rebecca Harvie rode him really well.” Abi has owned Hero Worship for 10 years now, he came from Darley racehorse rehoming and had done some retraining with Fred and Rowena Cook. Abi added: “Hero and I have taught each other everything – both good and bad! My husband, Jody Sole, has helped us tremendously.” Abi works as a marketing lead for a pharmaceutical company and Hero is ridden at home around three to five times a week. She said: “I can leave him in the stable and just then get on and go, he has such a wonderful temperament and it is so lovely that this series helps give racehorses a life after their racing career and is a showcase for their versatility.”
Oliver Hood riding Zoe Turner’s, Gateshead took the second qualifying place at Bury Farm in the SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse class. Oliver said: “He was brilliant on the day. He now has a bit of experience having been to HOYS last year in this class and it is great for Zoe who has had horses with us for around 15 years now. Zoe comes in and rides out at the yard a few mornings a week.” Oliver plans to head to the Hickstead Derby meeting with Gateshead now and he will contend riding horse classes at the county shows over the summer. Oliver continued: “Gateshead is the second horse we have had that has been in training with Bryan Smart. Bryan is so experienced and does a fair bit of showing alongside the racing so they know what type of horse will suit us.”
SEIB has an ongoing commitment to ethical showing, including making every effort to wipe out the use of prohibited substances and encouraging fit not fat horses into the show-ring. Baileys Horse Feeds attended the qualifier at Bury Farm with their equine weighbridge and a trained nutritionist to help educate competitors.
SEIB Marketing Manager Nicolina Mackenzie said: “The standard at Search for a Star increases year-on-year and this season we have some absolutely stunning horses through to compete in the Search for a Star final which is now in its 20th year at HOYS. We head north to our next qualifier at Alnwick Equestrian Centre in Northumberland on the 8th July which will be really interesting having not had a Search for a Star qualifier so far north for decades.”
Leading equine Insurance brokers, SEIB Insurance Brokers provide cover for horses, horse boxes, yards and much more. The company has a long association with the showing world and is renowned for ‘putting something back’ by supporting equestrian events and activities.
For insurance queries visit www.seib.co.uk or call 01708 850000.
All photos copyright SMRPhotos. www.smrphotos.co.uk