Photo: SMR Photography

 

Find out the highlights of the prestigious showing championship, SEIB Search for a Star

The much-anticipated SEIB Insurance Brokers Search for a Star Championships returned to to the main arena at Stoneleigh Park on 12 November 2021. This time, the popular showing finals kept audiences and competitors entertained all morning with five fantastic classes for amateur riders. Each championship winner was awarded a stunning trophy, sash and rosette, with expert commentary provided by top show producer, Katie Jerram-Hunnable and her Olympic eventing husband, Chris Hunnable.

Event Director, Emma Bedford said: “We were thrilled to welcome and host more SEIB Search for a Star championship classes than ever before. This year we had five championships adding part-bred traditional and in-hand along with some amazing amateur and open veteran finalists. The Search for a Star schedule was packed and ran back to back all morning on the opening Friday of the show and even more special was seeing it run in the newly sponsored SEIB 3,000 seater arena! It was a huge success for all, and it was lovely to see everybody having such a great competition after such a long break.”

The day kicked off with the first ever Search for a Star part-bred traditional championship, which saw four excellent examples come forward. The title went to the 15-year-old cob, Branston Pickle, owned by Lee Uttridge and ridden by Rosie Wrest. The pairing from Surrey were delighted with their win. Lee explained: “He’ll do anything for you and is just an amazing horse, he loved being in the ring today. It’s fantastic to have a part-bred traditional class like this that we can take part in. Branston will now enjoy a little rest and then he and Rosie will look to do more showing in the new year with the aim of taking part in their first Concours d’Elegance classes.”

The in-hand championship was next in the ring and didn’t disappoint. All competitors qualified for the championship in a special virtual Search for a Star photo competition hosted by Your Horse Live during the lockdown period where showing competitions weren’t an option. The championship judges were presented with a wide range of breeds and types to select their winner from, with people travelling from all corners of the country for the chance to be crowned champion. The coveted trophy and sash were awarded to Millie Bowles and the 24-year-old, Welsh section B, Cottrell Riverdance. Known as Ronnie at home, he’s owned by Millie’s mother Selina. Millie said: “He decided a life of retirement wasn’t for him! He loves being in the ring and really performs when he has the buzz and excitement around him. We’ve really enjoyed taking part in the virtual classes and it’s been great to come to Your Horse Live in person.”

The SEIB Search for a Star amateur veteran horse championship trophy was presented to Louise Chamberlain and her own 18-year-old Mystical Clover from Wiltshire. The pair previously qualified for and competed in the Search for a Star riding club show horse finals at Horse of the Year Show in 2016. Louise and Clover have previously evented together but decided on a change of career when Clover fell out of love with the sport. “I’m so proud of her, it’s been great to be here and just makes all the practice worth it. She seems to really enjoy it in the ring.” Louise works full-time as a graphic designer and fits the horses in before and after work. “Work don’t really understand what I do, but they’re very supportive!”

Next up was the SEIB Search for a Star mountain and moorland championship. SEIB Insurance Brokers set up the class to create more opportunities for amateur riders at a national championship level, and the SEIB arena provides a feel for the big occasion.  The trophy was presented to Simone Harrison and her own Welsh section D, Wishaw Red Admiral. Simone said: “The atmosphere here and in the ring is just amazing. Red has always enjoyed turning his hoof to showing, this has given us a boost to go out and campaign more next year, we would like to get to HOYS!”

The final championship of the morning was the open veteran horse and pony. This was a new and exciting format for the class where competitors were asked to perform a show of their choice in front of four judges. Judges were asked to score the show in live time with marks being revealed to the audience. It was a fantastic way of engaging the crowd and received lots of positive feedback from spectators and competitors alike. The title went to a pairing that are no stranger to the showing circuit, Abigail Sole and her own 18-year-old ex-racehorse, Hero Worship. Abigail and Hero Worship have been firm supporters of the SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse classes, and last month took second place in the R2R championship at HOYS. Following their win, an emotional Abigail made an announcement: “This has topped off what has been a great season for the both of us. I feel so happy, but also sad as this is our last outing in the show ring, Hero is now going to be retired from showing. I feel like we’ve left at the top and I can’t ask for more from him. It was a great class and we’ve really enjoyed taking part in this first one. I really liked the live scoring element.”

 

 

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