Among the many champions which emerged from this year’s Horse of the Year Show, it was one of the youngest, Young Lochinvar, which attracted much attention.

Oozing quality, with the most beautiful almost pony-like head, huge front, long, low sweeping action and manners to burn, he is the epitome of the park hack.

The five-year-old Borders-bred gelding turned more than a few heads when he appeared to head Friday’s small hack class and continued to do so in the championship in the International Arena under the spotlights at night.

With yet another mannerly performance in Sunday evening’s supreme horse championship, it may not have been his this year, but if there was one to look out for in the future, then it would surely be him.

Bred by well-known Borders equestrienne, Doreen Calder, she is best known for her success riding her own home-bred Flying Ace, a winner of no fewer than 59 races on 18 different race courses.

Doreen was the first woman and first Scot to win the prestigious Horse and Hound Cup, at Stratford, when she rode Flying Ace to victory there in 1985. She and her family continue to breed race horses from their farm near Duns, as well as hunt – although she admits that never in her wildest dreams did she think she’d breed the ‘Hack of the Year’.

Young Lochinvar’s story so far is one which reflects the romantic hero created by famous Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott, whose home was also the name of his grand-dam, Ashiestiel. Her daughter and his dam, Fair Ellen, another from Scott’s famous poem, was by the Thoroughbred formerly trained by Harry Bell, Le Coq D’Or, which bred some good horses in the Borders from his base at the Woodside Stud, Kelso.

Small in size, Fair Ellen became Doreen’s hunter and, aged 21, she was sent to the Whalton Stud, near Penrith, home of Kilvington Scoundrel, a pony stallion which has rewritten the history books as the most successful sire of small height show horses in Britain.

It was Richard Telfer who was first to spot the gelding’s promise as he trotted round the paddock at home. A quick phone call to famous show producer and Stanley Grange Stud owner, Jerome Harforth, soon saw Young Lochinvar head off south. There, his show ring career commenced as a novice in 2016 for new owner, Ali Talbot, who last took the HOYS Hack of the Year title with

Colbeach Starlight Express in 2004, again produced from Stanley Grange.

As novice and restricted champion at the British Show Horse Association’s national championships, last year, Young Lochinvar’s talent seems to know no bounds and who knows what lies ahead for this brilliant young horse in the future?

Surely, the intermediate as well as future hack titles at HOYS are well within his grasp.

The experts all agreed that his wonderful temperament, as much as his looks, sets Young Lochinvar apart from others and it seems that the comments could equally apply to another five-year-old HOYS winner, Ebony King, crowned ‘Small Hunter of the Year’, when ridden by James Munro.

He took the title more than 30 years since it last came to Scotland when the McCowans’ famous Statesman claimed it in 1983, following a previous victory in 1979. Produced by Russell Skelton and James from their northerly base in Caithness, Ebony King was purchased for Freda Newton in 2016 at Dublin Horse Show, where he took the four-year-old championship.

He was then turned away before coming back into work over the winter when he was show jumped as well arena evented. Another with a sensibility that belies his years, his entry into the show ring has been meteoric to say the least.

With a leg in each corner, plenty of bone and substance, his workmanlike appearance has offered judges an alternative to the recent trend towards more refined, quality types and they appear to have loved it.

He impressed early in the season at the Yorkshire Sports Horse Summer Show, where he won and stood reserve champion, beating many of the season’s top winners. Within weeks and only four previous outings under his belt, he took the overall ridden hunter award that the Royal Highland on the same day that Russell led to victory in the Sports Horse championship Mrs Rapson’s Future King.

It was with another ‘King’, this time King’s Warrior that the same owner had exceptional success, including the overall hunter championship at HOYS in 1994 when produced by Robert Oliver. The recent success of her show horses adds to an already impressive portfolio of one of Scotland’s leading entrepreneurs based in Inverness.

A Connemara cross by Aughabeg Patch, Ebony King was one of 10 registered Irish Sports Horses listed in the small hunter class, a trend which continued across the hunter classes. An even higher precentage of Irish breeding was witnessed in the heavyweight class, which was won by Amanda Peet, from Cockermouth, with her Bloomfield Ambition, a big, bay six-year-old by Royale Ambition. He was ridden and produced by another well-known Scottish producer, Kirstine Douglas from Dumfries.

The Bloomfield prefix has fairly come to the fore in recent years, with many of Britain’s top show horses emanating from the Wicklow yard belonging to Jane Bradbury and Daphne Tierney, who largely buy green three-year-olds at the sales or from Irish breeders.

Interestingly, the reserve ‘Hunter of the Year’ was Bloomfield Valhalla, another sourced from them by top southern producer, Jayne Ross, who seems to be a regular customer. Owned by London artist, Bella Malim, it was while buying the horse that she introduced her mother, Beverley Malim (listed in the top 50 of Scottish land owners) to the idea of sending one of her home-bred Highland ponies off Meggernie Estate, Glen Lyon, to Jayne to be produced with HOYS in mind.

Consequently, Catriona of Meggernie, a six-year-old dun mare by Noah of Meggernie out of Riona of Croila, duly travelled south to contest the ‘London’ shows, which she did with some style.

Bred in the purple, her sire appeared at HOYS in 2015 when produced from Meggernie by Julie Voules and ridden by Rose Macpherson, while her grandsire, Rannoch of Trailtrow, was champion at both HOYS and Olympia for Heather Prescott.

Catriona was previously a champion in hand, but is now based in Berkshire with five times winner of the HOYS supreme, Jayne Ross, whose influence on her Angus livery shone through during every performance.

Skilfully ridden by stable jockey, Scott Dixon, Catriona led a strong field of open ridden Highland ponies in the Topspec Arena on the first morning of the show. The same partnership had secured the junior ridden M and M championship at the Royal International Horse Show during the summer. At HOYS, Catriona once more took the tricolour for juniors, this time ridden by Alice Homer.

The Horse of the Year Show once more provided a wonderful platform for Scottish exhibitors, owners, producers and breeders to display their worth to a world-wide stage.

Talking of which, for show goers on the final gala evening, there was the additional treat when Scotland’s own Red Hot Chilli Pipers brought their own take on traditional music this time to an equestrian audience.