SEIB Search for a Star Championships back at Your Horse Live with five action packed finals

The much-anticipated SEIB Insurance Brokers Search for a Star Championships returned to Your Horse Live at Stoneleigh Park on the 12th November in the main SEIB Arena. This time the popular showing finals kept audiences and competitors entertained all morning with five fantastic classes for amateur riders. Each championship winner was awarded a stunning trophy, sash and rosette.  Expert commentary was provided by top show producer, Katie Jerram-Hunnable and her Olympic Eventing husband, Chris Hunnable.

Your Horse Live Event Director, Emma Bedford said: “We were thrilled to welcome and host more SEIB Search for a Star championship classes than ever before. This year we had five championships adding part-bred traditional and in-hand along with some amazing amateur and open veteran finalists. The Search for a Star schedule was packed and ran back-to-back all morning on the opening Friday of the show and even more special was seeing it run in the newly sponsored SEIB 3,000 seater arena! It was a huge success for all and it was lovely to see everybody having such a great competition after such a long break.”

The day kicked off with the first ever Search for a Star part-bred traditional championship which saw four excellent examples come forward. The title went to the 15-year-old cob, Branston Pickle, owned by Lee Uttridge and ridden by Rosie Wrest. The pairing from Surrey qualified at Brook Farm and were delighted with their win, Rosie met Lee when she went to the family livery yard near Gatwick. “I started riding Branston nearly six years ago, we started with dressage and then decided to try showing. Lee and I always said if we got just one rosette, we would be happy. I feel very emotional, to have won this championship is just the best feeling.”

The SEIB Search for a Star Part Bred Traditional class was judged by Sarah Chapman and Andrea Betteridge. Andrea heads up the Traditional Gypsy Cob Association and said: “We had a lovely class here today with some fantastic animals. It was truly great to see the support from the crowd and to be able to give these part-breds a chance to shine in the ring. It is so important to us to promote the breed and show people what these horses are capable of.”

The in-hand championship was next in the ring and did not disappoint. It was judged by Sarah Chapman and Search for a Star first time judge, Jack Moore. All competitors qualified for the championship in a special virtual Search for a Star photo competition hosted by Your Horse Live during the lockdown period where showing competitions weren’t an option. The championship judges were presented with a wide range of breeds and types to select their winner from with people travelling from all corners of the country for the chance to be crowned champion.

The coveted trophy and sash were awarded to Millie Bowles and the 24-year-old, Welsh Section B, Cottrell Riverdance. Known as Ronnie at home, Cottrell Riverdance is owned by Millie’s mother Selina. The pairing are no strangers to the podium positions having recently won the Veteran Horse Society veteran supreme overall final where they competed in-hand.

The SEIB Search for a Star amateur veteran horse championship trophy was presented to Louise Chamberlain and her own 18-year-old Mystical Clover from Wiltshire. The pair previously qualified for and competed in the Search for a Star riding club show horse finals at Horse of the Year Show in 2016. Louise and Clover have previously evented together but decided on a change of career when Clover fell out of love with the sport.

Now in its third year at Your Horse Live, the SEIB Search for a Star mountain and moorland championship did not disappoint. SEIB Insurance Brokers set up the Search for a Star mountain and moorland championship to create more opportunities for amateur riders at a national championship level. The SEIB arena at Your Horse Live truly provides a real feel for the big occasion for each of the Search for a Star finalists and previous competitors have given some lovely feedback from this prestigious event ensuring tough competition for qualifying places this year!

Amateur riders and their mountain and moorland ponies have travelled the length and breadth of the country to the Your Horse Live finals. A total of nine ponies came before judges Sarah Chapman and Paul Cook. The trophy was presented to Simone Harrison and her own Welsh Section D, Wishaw Red Admiral. Winning the 2021 championship has topped a good year for the fashion Talent Acquisition Lead and Red, the pair are no strangers to the show ring having taken 6th place at the Royal International earlier this season.

The SEIB Search for a Star mountain and moorland championship is open to pure-bred mountain and moorland ponies ridden by amateur riders.

The final championship of the morning was the open veteran horse and pony. This was a new and exciting format for the class where competitors were asked to perform a show of their choice in front of four judges. The championship was judged by Sarah Chapman, Jack Moore, Paul Cook and special VIP guest judge, Marcus Capel, CEO of the Pony Club. Judges were asked to score the show in live time with marks being revealed to the audience. It was a fantastic way of engaging the crowd and received lots of positive feedback from spectators and competitors alike.

Marcus Capel commented: “It was a privilege to join this experienced judging panel for the open veteran championship. There was a great atmosphere and the use of public scoring cards made it very easy for the audience to see what we all thought as individual judges with no conferring, including our differences of opinion! All of the horses were a credit to their owners and riders, looking very fit and active.”

The title went to a pairing that are no stranger to the showing circuit, Abigail Sole and her own 18-year-old ex-racehorse, Hero Worship (pictured above). Stowmarket’s Abigail and Hero Worship have been firm supporters of the SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse classes and last month took second place in the R2R championship at HOYS. Following their win, an emotional Abigail made an announcement: “This has topped off what has been a great season for the both of us. I feel so happy, but also sad as this is our last outing in the show ring, Hero is now going to be retired from showing. I feel like we have left at the top and I cannot ask for more from him. It was a great class and we have really enjoyed taking part in this first one. I really liked the live scoring element.”


Photo:  Credit SMR Photos