Laura looks back on a ‘seconditis’ HOYS and celebrates a new sponsorship deal

By: Horse Deals

Laura looks back on a ‘seconditis’ HOYS and celebrates a new sponsorship deal
Oz and Laura miss out on Foxhunter glory by just 0.15sec

I always consider HOYS the culmination of my season and this year was no different. To tell you the truth, it was quite a frustrating experience for me personally — I’m ultra competitive and to finish second in three classes was hard. But in the grand scale of things, I did have a good show and you have to put things into perspective. I could just as easily have come home without a single rosette.

As I’ve said in this column before, the Horse & Hound Foxhunter final has been my ultimate ambition for Oz de Breve all season and he couldn’t have come closer. I think so much of Oz and I wanted it for him — not me — but, sadly, it wasn’t to be.

I don’t want to make excuses and Bruce Menzies was a really deserving winner on Sultan, but Oz stumbled and lost a shoe in the jump-off, which may have made the difference.

I was delighted with Oz anyway and I believe he can progress all the way. He’s never been the quickest horse in my string and he tried as hard as he could. But I was mortified when I got home and watched the recording of the class on Sky Sports because commentator Andy Austin kept saying how untidy our jump-off round looked.

In comparison with Bruce’s round I suppose I wasn’t that smooth, but when you’re trying so hard to win, you can’t always look tidy — well, that’s my excuse anyway!

I was also pleased when Bruce and Sultan went on to do the double in the grade C, which proved that Oz finished close behind a really good horse. Bruce has always been a good rider, so it was nice to see him have a dream show. It reminded me of when Limelight de Breve won two novice finals.

Then in the six-year-old championship, I got pipped again, this time on Parvati de Breve. "Tia" has had a fantastic season. She won her final at Arena UK and also took the young horse grand prix at Maubeuge in France earlier in the year, so I was hopeful. But she’s 17hh, which can make her harder to manoeuvre indoors than a pony type such as Beluga.

In fact, Tia jumped out of her skin here and it took a masterly round from Nick Skelton on Big Star, a horse he really rates, to beat us. Tia may be maturing slowly, but I think she has a big future and I’m delighted for her owner, BSJA area representative Julia Biddle, who has been a huge supporter of my husband, John, and me over the years.

Beluga was on good form and, after finishing in my favourite place — second! — in Friday’s table C, she put it all together to win a hot two-phase on Sunday. Bella is an incredible horse and we call her Miss Consistent. It’s a delight to ride her because she loves her job so much.

My other top ride Limelight de Breve wasn’t herself though. I know her so well that I can tell if she’s not 100%. Maybe she just had a headache, but we’re awaiting the results of blood tests and she’s now going on holiday for a month. We’ll try to give Bella a rest too, but she hates holidays. If you turn her out, she’s shouting to come in after a couple of hours.

After their holiday, we’ll get Lulu and Bella ready for Olympia — and they’ll both have new names there! About a fortnight before HOYS, I was approached by Softrack Surfaces and I’ve signed a five-year sponsorship deal with them that includes my two top horses carrying the company prefix. It was such a huge boost to get an offer like this — especially in a recession — so I’m extremely grateful.

Finally, many people have asked me what on earth I was doing in the puissance at HOYS after vowing never to try one again. I know it sounds mad, but I thought I’d give it a try on a different horse to see if it would be less frightening.

Well it wasn’t! In fact, the whole experience on Roller Coaster was equally terrifying, so if anyone sees me riding towards a big red wall in future, they have permission to shoot me!