Local Young England Rider to Compete for the Prince Philip Cup at HOYS 2018.
North Warwickshire Pony Club Mounted Games Team, fondly known as “Spots”, are off to what is undoubtedly recognised as the world’s most famous horse show – Horse of The Year Show (HOYS)!
The club has enjoyed previous success at HOYS, winning the Prince Phillip Cup in 1990 and qualifying in 2000 and 2001. Now after a long 17 year wait and fierce battle for their deserved place, the team will take part in the 70th anniversary end of season finale held at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre on 3-7th October 2018.
Isla Holman-West, age 15, from Stratford upon Avon is somewhat of a sports super star after securing her place in the England Mounted Games team earlier this year. Following her success at Royal Windsor back in May, she focused her attention back on her club team, North Warwickshire. Isla now follows in her sister’s footsteps, who finished 2nd at HOYS in 2013 and lifted the Prince Philip Cup in 2014.
Isla has been riding since the age of 2 and joined the Pony Club aged 5. She has competed in many disciplines with great success but mounted games has always been her first love and taking her much loved pony Casper to HOYS is a dream come true. Isla wept tears of joy as her team was announced as a qualifier for HOYS 2018.
After qualifying at Zones, the senior A team riders, Isla Holman-West, Harry Horton Barr, Katie Tuttiett, Bo Crump and Alex Mallalieu, competed at The Pony Club Championships at Cholmondeley Castle, Cheshire on Monday 20th August, against 24 top Pony Club teams from across the country for one of the two final places at HOYS. Earlier competitions had secured the other four places to West Hants, Romney Marsh, Oakley Hunt West and Morpeth Hunt.
Following a disastrous fall leaving no choice but to use a reserve pony, the morning session finished remarkably well on 54 points which left NWPC in first place. The pressure was on during the afternoon sessions, but determination prevailed as the team remained focused on the end goal, and they led virtually all the way. With just three races to go, the mass of points accumulated left the team confident in the fact that they would comfortably take 2nd place, at least, and a guaranteed place at HOYS. The races continued and their position became less comfortable in the penultimate race, with a total score of 42 their nearest rival Atherstone were close on their heels with 41. The final race was Big Sack, a good race for North Warwickshire, however, a stumble near the line let Atherstone in for the win taking the 7 points. Spots finished second and the 6 points they were awarded brought the final scores to 48 each.
Much celebration proceeded amongst the team members as NWPC had the golden ticket to HOYS, but still there was the small matter of the National Championship title to settle. The nail-biting tie breaker finale was set up between the two remaining teams. Ball and flag, simple, until the pressure is on. Isla was first to go and her ball pick-up was perfect. Atherstone dropped the ball on their go, typically they rectify mistakes in exceptionally quick style, but on this occasion luck was on side as Atherstone went on to make further mistakes. The Spots strolled to a faultless and comfortable win to be crowned 2018 winners of the Just Chaps Senior Runners-Up Competition.
Trainer Lisa Davies, who has had previous success at HOYS when she trained the 2014 winning team, commented “With the obstacles that we faced along the way it seemed like a distant dream but these young talented riders demonstrated true grit, determination and team effort throughout, they rode fantastically well and they accomplished their goal to become champions. I am so proud of what they have achieved so far.”
Mounted games were the inspiration of Prince Philip and is a competition where very fast games are played by riders on their ponies and the games require a high degree of athletic ability, good riding skills, determination and competitive spirit. North Warwickshire Pony Club, established in 1931, has around 170 members with 30 of those aged 4-14 years taking part in mounted games.
Winning at HOYS is the pinnacle of every equestrian’s career and what each individual rider aspires to. With the help of the Pony Club and the North Warwickshire Branch, the team are about to embark on a fundraising exercise for necessary equipment and stabling arrangements, which will allow the riders to compete in the acclaimed spectacle at the NEC in October. To attend the next event Meet the HOYS Team 2018 visit http://branches.pcuk.org/northwarwickshire/rally-training-event-bookings/
In a bizarre twist to the tale, with NWPC and Atherstone taking their well-deserved places at HOYS, it resulted in all six of the England Mounted Games Team members taking their place to compete at HOYS with their respective branches! Possibly some kind of record! The England Team; Isla Holman-West, Amelia Swann, Chelsie Ledger, Elysee Williams-Ward, Sophie Grimshaw and Tillie Ball, were selected from different pony club branches across the country. Earlier this year the England Team lifted the winning trophy with 209 points, a record number of points ever scored, after competing in the DAKS Home International Mounted Games Championships in the presence of the Queen, at Royal Windsor. The team next ride together for England at the Punchestown Racecourse in Ireland in October 2018.