Valdecaz is the finest
Horse & Hound|July 22, 2021
The HOYS qualifying circuit storms on, as more riders and their steeds capture coveted spots to the anticipated final
ALEX ROBINSON

A HOME-PRODUCED horse secured his Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) ticket before capturing the overall coloured section championship.

Lancashire rider Gemma Neville has owned 10-year-old Oakfield Valdecaz (Yogi) since he was a just-backed three-year-old, and while he’s a regular face at the NEC, this was the upstanding 17.2hh gelding’s first HOYS tricolour. Yogi was bought from Reid Finlay, whom Gemma had previously sourced cobs from.

“I wanted a big, rangy horse as I’d had previously, but with plaits in,” said Gemma, who qualified Yogi for HOYS for the first time at Stoneleigh during his debut season under saddle. “He’s the perfect amateur horse and is the yard favourite. He loves a grass ring so I’d been hanging offa bit this season until the ground was just right for him.”

Gemma works full-time in the accounts and admin department for a small family-run business and juggles horses in between.

“I hope I can prove that home producers can do it,” Gemma added. “You can’t take your foot offthe pedal and while it’s hard to keep up with the professionals, fellow coloured competitors have been hugely supportive of Yogi’s journey and have encouraged me to keep going with him.”

BETTER THAN EVER

WINNING 133cm Warleigh Blushing Groom (Joey) and Daisy May Allen secured the show hunter pony accolade for producers Kevin Cousins and Christina Gillett and Daisy May’s parents, Jodie and Gavin Allen.

Nine-year-old Joey was sourced by Kevin and Christina after HOYS in 2019 for clients Claire Drewery and her daughter Harriet, but unfortunately, the young jockey outgrew him before they could make their partnership public.

“It was sad for Harriet but a year outdid the pony the power of good,” said Christina. “Gavin, a long-term friend of Kevin’s, bought Joey for Daisy May last October. He’s a sweet pony but he has his quirks. We’ve had him for two seasons now so we know how to get the best out of him.”

Reserve was Samuel Bentley and the attractive Team Holderproduced 143cm Lindeth Whistleblower, who were making their qualifier debut.

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