Rhianydd Lee-Jones, winner of Horse & Country TV's new reality series, will make her debut as its champion for the channel's online coverage of Hickstead’s Longines Royal International Horse Show this week.
Rhianydd, 27, was crowned the 2016 Blue Chip All Star Academy Champion after taking part in Horse & Country TV’s innovative new reality television series.
The Welsh rider will be reporting from the Horse & Country website and will be interviewing stars from the Hickstead venue.
“I’m really looking forward to joining the H&C team at Hickstead and I can’t wait to get in on the action,” said Rhianydd.
Horse & Country viewers can enjoy real live online reporting, rider interviews and video content from Hickstead this week as Rhianydd looks set to make a big contribution to the channel’s output.
The former polocrosse player, who is now a video blogger for the Horse & Country website, has already generated a positive following on social media sites.
As part of the prize from the Blue Chip All Star Academy, she will also get to guest present H&C TV’s magazine show, Rudall’s Round-Up, from the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, alongside presenter Jenny Rudall. In addition to this, Rhi received a year’s sponsorship from the show’s title sponsors Blue Chip Feed.
While filming wrapped at the end of April, the results of the competition – which saw one overall champion crowned alongside three runners-up – were kept secret until the final show aired on Sunday 10 July.
“Reaction has been so positive since winning the show, and my friends couldn't believe I'd managed to keep it a secret from them that I had won!” said Rhianydd.
Originally due to take her mare Lekker, an ex-racehorse who is competing at BE90 level, Rhianydd had to bring her other ride Bob instead when Lekker picked up a hoof abscess on the day filming began. Bob had very recently retired from racing, having only left training two weeks before the show was filmed, but both he and Rhianydd made a rapid improvement across the four days.
“The whole series has flown by; I'm going to miss seeing Bob on TV every Sunday!” she said.“I've also had loads of messages from viewers who have ex-racehorses, who loved watching Bob improve throughout the series.”
The finalists got to have lessons with some of the leading names in the sport, including Pammy Hutton, Charlie Hutton, Olympic event rider Ludwig Svennerstål, top show producer Jayne Ross, event and dressage star Daisy Coakley and Olympic gold medallist Carl Hester.
Candidates also took part in a number of challenges designed to test their horsemanship knowledge and media skills, proving their worth as future video blogging stars.
Head judge Pammy Hutton – an international dressage rider and renowned trainer – was the horse world’s answer to Alan Sugar, and she took no prisoners when delivering her feedback on the eight contestants.
Horse & Country’s Managing Director Richard Burdett is delighted with the reaction to the show. “Rhi is a very worthy winner – she’s been brilliantly watchable during the series and we’re sure that the video blogs from her, Issy, Lucy and Josh are going to be massively popular,” he says.
Joining Rhi as H&C vloggers are the three runners up: Issy Nami, a dressage rider from Bolton, two-star event rider Josh Noakes from Staffordshire, and Berkshire-based event rider and model Lucy Robinson.
Their first blogs are available to watch now on Horse & Country TV’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/c/horseandcountrytvuk/channels
Blue Chip All Star Academy will continue to be shown on Horse & Country TV (Sky channel 253) and the entire series is available to watch in full On Demand via H&C Play, which allows you to watch the channel via your laptop, PC, smart phone or tablet.