Photography unless stated by 1st Class Images
Lead Photograph: Mirv (Psadisho Ibn Esstashan x Mirvana 11)
Despite being relegated to the opening afternoon of the Horse of the Years Show (HOYS), the stands were packed for the Simon Constable Vets and Mr and Mrs Roberts Ridden Purebred Arab of the Year Championship. The new, larger layout of the Topspec (neé Caldene) Arena was a welcome sight as it gave the competitors the option to give each other plenty of space in the initial go-round, which was split into two halves to accommodate for the 17 horses forward for judging.
|The stands were full for the class. ©Katherine Bertram.
Ride judge Nicola Mellor’s show asked the horses relatively straightforward questions: can they bend correctly in canter? Can they change rein through trot on a straight line? Can they pull up after an extension heading towards the exit? The majority of the horses performed well and appeared to give her a pleasurable ride but it was enough of a test to separate the prize winners from the finalists. In her first group of horses forward for riding, particular standouts for me included Sameon Mahrouhk (Mareschal x Sharinaah) who gave a jolly ride and LTF Jannade C (G Tamim x Khamile TBA) who was later rewarded with a top five finish. While the first group were being judged for their ride, Ann Hooley assessed the remaining nine horses for conformation.
|Vartanii (Sisyrinchium x Asifa Alsara)
After swapping the sections over, Nicola Mellor seemed to enjoy rides on Vartanii (Sisyrinchium x Asifa Alsara) – first to go in the second half – CS Lelisha (Krown x G Lilja) and CBeebies (Monther Al Nasser x FS Cinderella). The second group of horses for ridden assessment overall yielded six of the nine placed horses and eight of the top 11.
Both groups of horses were then reunited for the final results, where the top 11 were called out in catalogue order, and the remaining five were dismissed. Out of these horses, none were disgraced and Solitaire SR (Psydream x LFT Wings of Joy) in particular performed well for both judges. I am pleased to report that all horses looked like they could have been in the top 11 on another day and there did not appear to be a large rift between the placed and unplaced horses.
|The new and improved Top Spec Arena. © Katherine Bertram.
|Judges Ann Hooley and Nicola Mellor await the prize-giving. © Katherine Bertram
Onto the top 11, where the results from 9th were called in reverse order. Ninth went to Bey Dayaan (Ganemede x Gold Dayahla), the impressive eight-year old Crabbet stallion, owned and ridden by David Froggatt and bred by Mrs CM Cooke, who made his debut HOYS appearance this year. Eighth place was awarded to the popular 12-year old stallion Calimeer (Edeon x Calamintha), owned and ridden by Karen Dewey and bred by the Honourable PB Guinness, who also received the Canstsfield Perpetual Trophy for the highest-placed stallion. With L S Coombs’ homebred Eastworth Harri (Asrah x Princess Netitia) out of the running with Stephanie Zebedee, the attention was turned to the geldings and mares to fill the remaining seven places. Seventh spot was given to Ben Hester’s Sameon Marouhk, bred by Mrs S Wilkinson and out of the Ridden Arabian Star Series Gold Champion Shaarinah (Kais x Sherruka Al Roban), he did not disappoint and was a pleasure to watch. Sixth went to the six-year old CBeebies; bred by Mr C and Mrs J Lowe, owned by Sam Madgwick and partnered by Jane Hately, this young mare has a bright future ahead of her and gave a mature ridden performance for her HOYS debut.
|CS Lelisha (Krown x G Lilja) © Caroline Anderson
With five places left and seven horses forward, fifth was awarded to Diana Whittome’s homebred Crabbet gelding Incandescent (Psalm x Illaria), ridden by Stephanie Turner and taking the top honours of HOYS debutantes. He was a little green at times but there is most certainly a huge future for this rising star. LTF Jannade C settled for fourth on this occasion, having been Reserve Champion to Shaarinah last year. This seven-year old bay gelding was the first to be ridden by the judge and put in a pleasing benchmark performance for his owner/rider Amanda Miller and breeder Pauline Crick. Third and highest-placed mare was CS Lelisha, full sister to ES Lelina, a fellow HOYS finalist. Ridden by Kirsty Nelson for owner and breeder Len Morgan, this combination collected the Bergua Perpetual Trophy as well as their third place rosette.
As Aja Forever Lace (FS Bengali x AR Kioki Lace), the elegant grey mare owned and ridden by Jamie Knott and bred by Mr and Mrs Hickford was now out of the running, two geldings fought for the championship title, the Elustarius Perpetual Trophy, and the £210 prize purse. After a nail-biting wait, the Reserve Champion was announced as Vartanii. One place above his 2016 result, the reigning British National Champion settled for 2nd after a foot-perfect performance that left Nicola Mellor visibly grinning when returning him to rider Darren Crowe. Owned by Katy Cotgrove and bred by Mrs PL Fogg, Vartanii kept his cool and showed his class throughout the class and prizegiving.
|Mirv (Psadisho Ibn Esstashan x Mirvana 11)
With one gelding left in the lineup, it was not hard to mistake this year’s champion. Ridden by an overjoyed Clare Fitch, Mirv (Psadisho Ibn Esstashan x Mirvana 11) was awarded the championship title and the Elustarius Perpetual Trophy for highest placed gelding. This lovely nine-year old is owned and bred by the Hon Mary Ann Wragg, who has done so much for Arabian ridden showing over recent years. Having previously been eighth last year, Mirv gained a one mark advantage over his nearest rival and took the top honours this year.. It was great to see them smiling at the top of the line, as Mirv cemented his place on the Horse of the Year Show Ridden Arab Roll of Honour.
|Two of the trophies on offer. © Katherine Bertram.
Thanks must, of course, be extended to the generous sponsors of the class, without whom the future of the ridden Arabian at HOYS may be uncertain, and for going above and beyond to provide beautiful sashes to all of this year’s finalists. It could also be noted that there were no sudden loud noises on the initial ‘go around’, thought to have been caused by interference issues with the microphone of last year’s commentator, which added to a much more pleasant atmosphere which saw the horses more settled this time around. Truly, the class of 2017 put on a performance that showcased the Arabian breed in a positive and credible light.
|Karen Dewey and Calimeer
Full results (manners and way of going/conformation, type and freedom of action)
1st Mirv 45/42 – 87
2nd Vartanii 46/40 – 86
3rd CS Lelisha 43/41 – 80
4th LTF Jannade C 40/40 – 80
5th Incandescent 42/38 – 80
6th CBeebies 41/38 – 79
7th Sameon Marouhk 38/41 – 79
8th Calimeer 39/37 – 76
9th Bey Dayaan 34/40 – 74
|Karen Dewey with Calimeer and Clare Fitch with Mirv. © Katherine Bertram
Katherine Bertram is an English young rider who competes in a variety of different disciplines on her mother’s homebred pure and part-bred Arabians. Having achieved advanced rider status in Endurance after her first season at age 14 on Marcus Aurelius (Aurelian x Fiesta Magica), Katherine turned her attention to showjumping with his progeny, at which she currently competes at Senior Newcomers (1.10). As well as also delving into showing, eventing and, occasionally, dressage, Katherine juggles her studies while attending the University of Birmingham.