The National Veteran Championships, hosted by the Veteran Horse Society, may only be in its sixth year, but class entries have doubled since last year, showing just how popular this three day Championship has become.
The National Veteran Championships, now starting to be known as VOYS, has become the highlight of the veteran calendar, bringing together the hundreds of veteran horse owners and carers for one weekend of the year for the finale of the veteran showing season.
We are the champions
On Friday the area qualifier had strong class entries, with the Overall Ridden Champion going to Rose Sinclair-James and Mrs James's 17 year old Half Irish. In-Hand was taken by Tia Hulse and her own 18 year old Ulrixt.
Rose said: “Doing a lap of honour to Queen’s ‘We are the Champions’ is a feeling I will never forget. We had initially made the difficult decision against going this year due to moving to Pembrokeshire which meant a 6+ hour journey. However, the kindness of a great friend made it all possible, as we stopped off halfway to break overnight.”
In the evening the Main Arena hosted one of the most popular classes for both competitors and spectators alike, Dressage to Music and Strictly Dress-age. This year’s points Champion was Claire Rafferty with her own Song of the Stars (15) and she also went on to win Dressage to Music.
Strictly Fancy Dress-Age winner was Claire Hazeldine and her 20 year old Taking the Biscuit. Best costume went to Amelia Stevens and Glenives Princess Sylvia and runner up was Freya Niamh Money and Tallares Pixie Dust.
There was also a very unexpected guest appearance, from a member of team GB – VHS member, Lindsay Hancock, who gave an outstanding dressage to music performance with her Team GB horse Barachiel.
Costumes, pairs and young riders
Saturday hosted the Equitation for riders 15 years and under. This was won by Isobel Kinvig and Mrs Kinvig's Glengoole Lad aged 19. Riders over 15 years was won by Joe Mace and Lady in Red.
The costume classes, as always, were hugely popular and this year we had some beautifully elegant costumes being displayed off and on the saddle. Winners of this were in-hand Rebecca Rawlinson with her own Clarmount Bengeman aged 21 and ridden was side side saddle won by Moya Payne & Marshlands Aero aged 16.
The Pairs Class went to Laura Kenyon-Brodie and Maysong aged 22 and Beth Hutchinson with Tamiros aged 19, who were overwhelmed when they were announced the winners. The judge Di Eaton gave them incredibly high marks to win the most sought-after class.
Laura said: “Having first met at the VHS Championships in 2017, we finished second in this class last year at our first attempt, so we were surprised and excited to win and we are so proud of our amazing pair of horses who were so in sync even though they only meet twice a year. Time to celebrate friendships both human and equine!”
The M&M wild card certainly gave judge Janet Smithers a lot to think about. Eventually after a very hard decision it went to Miranda Wallace's 19 year old Moortown Honeyman, ridden by Miss Daisy Conibear. The best rider/horse combination went to Lindsay Hancock riding Measham Metz aged 16.
Large ridden hunter entries again had some fantastic horses coming forward. This year the title was taken by Heidi Menhinick and Delta Storm aged 15.
Working hunters classes ranged from bottom hole jumping to 90 inch. Everyone got round safely in these full classes and winner of the top hole workers was Katherine Broughton and Merfold aged 18.
M&M Supreme Finals
The main event for the Saturday daytime was the M&M Supreme Finals. These veterans had qualified from all over the country from either a Direct or Regional Final and there were some outstanding pairs.
In-hand M&M Supreme title went to Mr Gary Snaith and his beautiful 19 year old Shetland Mare Schivas Victoria.
The ridden title went to Georgie Lewis-Roberts and Mrs Roberts 17 year old Fell Stallion, Waverhead Dazzler II.
Georgie & Waverhead Dazzler II went on to take the overall title of M&M of the Year 2019. Reserve M&M Champion went to Mr Gary Snaith and Schivas Victoria.
Champion of Champions
This produced another spectacular evening with no less than sixteen Championships up for grabs followed by the crowning of the much coveted Champion of Champions. The quality of horses forward into the evening was outstanding and of no surprise considering how well attended the qualifying daytime classes had been.
After much deliberation Champion of Champions went to Heidi Menhinick with Mrs Menhinick's Delta Storm (15), giving her automatic entry to the Foundation Pre Veteran Supreme Final.
Heidi said: “It was amazing and one of the best evenings I have ever experienced in my life. Storm is a Hanovarian X TB, my Mum backed him when he was three. I can't recommend this show enough to people who are unaware of the VHS.”
Reserve Champion went to Suzy Felthams' 17 year old coloured gelding Star Dream and second reserve was 19 year old Moortown Honeyman, ridden by Miss Daisy Conibear.
Sunday’s Supreme Final classes were exceptionally well attended. The judges were delighted with the quality of veterans forward before them, recognising what a challenge this gave them.
Each foundation age Supreme Final was judged and each Champion & Reserve then went forward to the Overall Supreme Final to find the Veteran of the Year 2019.
Huge congratulations goes to Millie Bowles’ 22 year old Cottrell Riverdance, who topped their age category, going on to take the Supreme Title of Allen & Page Veteran Horse of the Year 2019.
Millie said: “I’m so proud of Ronnie becoming Veteran of the year 2019. The championship was full of some stunning veterans and any one of them could have taken the tile.
“Ronnie is a quirky, charismatic ball of fun to ride and he absolutely loved his moment in the ring and performed his heart out for me, I know he enjoyed it as much as I did. I am still in shock and will never forget this day.”
Reserve Overall Champion went to Jamie Rashbrook and Suzie Feltham's 17 year old Star Dream. This remarkable horse has not only recovered from a major injury but in the same year he lost his eye, showing that injuries and illness can be overcome and you can go on to become Champions.
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