Our Cashel Blue, the first horse Allister Hood rode when he returned to the saddle after a freak accident, claimed the Ripon Foods supreme horse of the year at HOYS last Sunday, rounding off a marvellous week for Team Hood. Quite apart from his obvious good looks and presence, Blue clearly has a special place in Hood’s heart.
“He looks after me, and he’s just amazing,” said Hood, who has been competing at HOYS since 1972. “He’s such a dude.”
Indeed, the coloured cob has quite a following, and is recognised wherever he goes. “It’s lovely how popular he is, everyone says, ‘Hi Blue’ and ‘Well done, Blue’.”
It was not all plain sailing for Hood as, the night before the cob classes, he slipped on some steps and pulled a muscle in his thigh.
“It’s what I call my jumping muscle,” joked Hood, who hunts Our Cashel Blue with the Dunston Harriers. “I had a tail bandage wrapped round the top of my leg and I couldn’t lift my foot and leg high enough to get on to the mounting block. My son Oliver had to lift me on to the horse!”
Injury aside, they romped through the cob sections to stand Humdinger Consultancy cob of the year and go through to the supreme. “He’s a lovely mover for a cob, has such an athletic stride, and he’s always happy and always polite,” said Hood. “He’s got the X factor.”
The supreme was announced in the main arena at HOYS, but the preliminary judging took place in the smaller TopSpec Arena. All the champions — including cob, maxi cob, hack, riding horse, hunter, working hunter, Arab and coloured — performed an individual show for the judges, this year Tom Best and David Blair of the Waxwing Stud in Fife.
“I rode Blue and Oliver rode the riding horse, Diamonds Are Forever, in the preliminary judging for the supreme,” said Allister. “They both performed very well. But I have to say everything else did, everybody put on a very polished performance. I don’t think you can ever predict a supreme. You get no idea from the preliminary who was going to get it — the judges gave us all the same poker face. They’d be very good at poker!”
Hood’s victory was clearly a popular one and the crowd roared their appreciation of his showmanship, as he raised his hat and trotted Our Cashel Blue down the centre line in the spotlight. It was the first time he had won the HOYS supreme since 1985, when he claimed the title with a small hunter called Macbeth.
“There was no trophy so I got a bottle of champagne,” recalled Hood. “Then it got a trophy for few years then ceased to exist, and the trophy went to the hack and cob show. Blue won it, which was fitting because it was the Cooper family trophy which was a bronze of Brown Buzzard, the horse that brought my wife Anne and I together.”
In total, Team Hood took 14 horses to HOYS 2016 and all acquitted themselves well. “At the end of the day, as a producer, that is your ultimate aim,” said a very satisfied Hood.