An in-foal Suffolk Punch mare took the supreme title in the SEIB Insurance Brokers Search for a Star (SFAS) Championship at Your Horse Live. Four-year-old Holbeache Scarlet (pictured above) won the first ever in-hand SFAS heavy horse final on Friday (10 November) and then took the in-hand and went overall supreme champion on the Saturday (11 November). A Dales pony took reserve.
“Both the rare breed champion and reserve stood out today,” said longstanding Search for a Star judges Katie Jerram Hunnable and Chris Hunnable. “The Suffolk Punch was lovely and so well behaved. She is in foal — due at the end of May — which will be a fantastic addition to the collection of these rare breeds. We really liked her foreleg with her short pastern and cannon bone. It was a lovely win.”
Holbeache Scarlet is one of several broodmares owned by Andrea Hoskins and was handled in the ring by Andrea’s stud manager Brak Auker. The mare was also a winner at Royal Norfolk Show and stood supreme champion at Suffolk County.
“It means an awful lot to me to win here today. It’s the first job I’ve had where I’m completely in charge and I am delighted we have managed to do this for Andrea,” said Brak, who has been working for Andrea for a year. “This is all new to me! I was always interested in heavy and working horses but then was sidetracked into Thoroughbreds for several years before now working for Andrea.”
Only 80 breeding mares in the UK
The Suffolk Punch breed is registered on the Priority list of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, making them critically endangered. There are only 80 Suffolk Punch breeding mares in the UK and there were just 23 foals on the ground in 2023.
“We are aiming to preserve the breed,” added Brak. “Scarlet is in foal — she is well put together and has also won best shod prizes several times. Showing is definitely her thing!”
The SFAS in-hand heavy horse championship featured a best shod competition, judged by Farriers Registration Council member Robin May, as well as a prize for the highest placed horse owned and exhibited by a British Horse Society member. Holbeache Scarlet won both of these prizes.
Heavy horse judge Steve Ledsham said: “They were all winners on the day in this final as they have all qualified at the different shows. It is the breed standard that we are looking to find in a mixed class. The Suffolk Punch, Holbeache Scarlet, met the breed standard to perfection.”
‘You couldn’t beat the atmosphere’
All 10 winners from Friday’s classes came forward for supreme championship on Saturday, with Matthew Lawrence and Beth Simons judging alongside husband and wife duo Katie and Chris.
Dales gelding Nipna Outrageous, ridden by his owner Nicola Clarey, finished reserve supreme after taking the Search for a Star ridden mountain and moorland title. The judges described the six-year-old as being “true to type — we really liked him”.
“He just felt amazing in the supreme championship today. He loves the atmosphere and will now have a rest until the new year,” said Nicola of ‘Ray’, who only started showing this year. “He has had a busy time in his first season showing and took third at his first SFAS qualifier back in April before qualifying at Stoneleigh Park in the summer.
“He’s improving all the time and we will go for Horse of the Year Show and Royal International qualifiers next year,” added Nicola, who almost couldn’t compete at Your Horse Live after a fall earlier in the week required a trip to A&E.
SEIB’s Marketing Manager, Nicolina MacKenzie, who founded Search for a Star, said, “you simply couldn’t beat the atmosphere” this year.
Competitors and spectators at Your Horse Live can hear the judges voice their thoughts over a microphone during the Search for a Star classes. Nicolina added: “We are thrilled with how the new Search for a Star in-hand heavy horse championship has gone and delighted that we had two British native rare-breeds taking the supreme and reserve titles.”
Images by SMR Photography