Banburyshire rider is keeping it in the family and taking the show to HOYS
Laura Juniper of Evenley was brought up with a huge competitive influence – her stepfather is Derek Ricketts, the illustrious showjumper who became a household name with international success on horses including Coldstream and Beau Supreme.
Laura has qualified for the Working Hunter championship next Wednesday at the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) on Ricketts’ horse Renaissance Man (Rodney) – originally brought over from Ireland for Mr Ricketts to ride.
"Rodney is an 18hh Irish Draught who my Step Dad brought for himself from Ireland,” said Laura.
"Derek used to show jump internationally and competed many times at HOYS. He has a wonderful eye for a horse. It soon became clear Rodney was very talented and Derek kindly let me take him to some shows. He qualified at Stoneleigh.
“We called Rodney ‘Renaissance Man’ as he really is a horse who does everything. As well as Derek field mastering from him, my inexperienced husband and eight-year-old son have ridden him too. He is the kindest horse we have ever had.”
Ten-year-old Oxfordshire girl Ava Nicholl is another lucky qualifier who will compete in the amazing atmosphere of HOYS, which takes place at the NEC, Birmingham next week, from October 4 – 8.
Ava has qualified for the Equine Rescue Services 128cm Championship on Saturday, October 7 with Hillviews Princess Anne.
Mum Charlotte, from Benson, said: “We have owned Princess just over a year and bought her to jump 80cm/90cm classes, never expecting them to develop such a bond. They qualified for HOYS at the Welsh Home Pony Show – the final qualifier of the year.
"Ava’s been riding since she was six; her big brother had a pony on loan and she decided she wasn't going to be outdone by him. He gave up during Covid and she carried on.
"I used to ride and show jumped, qualifying for HOYS twice but gave up to have children. Ava has been competing affiliated show jumping since the beginning of 2022, so not long.
“Princess is 16, we don’t know her breeding and the HOYS track is 1.15m high! It’s slightly daunting but we've told Ava the biggest achievement is getting there, as she's not qualified before. She has next year too on 128s. We never expected them to qualify this year.”
Eleven-year-old Oscar Elcock, of Wantage, has qualified his pony Llanafanfawr Bryan for HOYS in the Junior Mountain and Moorland Working Hunter pony class.
"Oscar has been riding since before he could walk,” said his mum Cheryl. “He qualified for the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) for the first time a week after his third birthday.
"In 2019 Oscar won at HOYS in the Leading Rein Show Hunter Pony with our home-produced pony Mardruid Caradog.
“Bryan is on loan to us from Laura Millard-Long and this will be Oscar and Bryan’s last show together before Laura’s daughter Mia takes over the reins next season. They qualified at Northern Counties Pony Association, Staffs for this class.
"Oscar and Bryan have had many wins together over the last year including sixth at HOYS last year.”