Rounding off this month was one of the most prestigious shows in the show jumping calendar, the Horse of the Year show, held at the NEC, Birmingham.

The culmination of months of qualifiers, and the hopes and dreams of many, it still is 'the big one' everyone aims for and having been cancelled last year, this one was all the more atmospheric.

Having had a quiet season, Kirkcudbright’s James Smith took three horses with his Ustinov-sired 12-year-old Simply Splendid living up to his name when he scorched clear of a 22-starter speed class to land the Stoneleigh Stakes.

Earning over £7000 for his week’s work, Simply Splendid also slotted into fourth in the Grandstand Challenge Cup behind Michael Duffy, John and William Whitaker.

Less than a second split the top three in the Speed Horse of the Year where it was the turn of Jay Halim and Holly Smith to thwart James’ attempt, but considering he hasn’t been out since Northcote almost a month earlier, where he and Simply Splendid finished runner up in the Gold League Grand Prix team, he would be more than happy.

James Smith on Simply Splendid after winning the Stoneleigh Stakes at HOYS

James Smith on Simply Splendid after winning the Stoneleigh Stakes at HOYS

James has fairly recently gone into joint ownership with Ayrshire Timber Harvester and show jumping enthusiast, Jim Wilmer, with whom he now shares the lovely six-year-old Prince Malko M.

Produced originally by Declan Irvine for then owner, Vicki Stewart, Prince Malko M joined James in July and on their first outing together qualified for the Newcomers final at HOYS.

Since then the pair has finished fifth in the six-year-old final at Bolesworth before heading across the water to Lanaken where they finished 10th in another young horse final from hundreds of starters.

Jumping under the lights in the NEC, Prince Malko made it look easy and showed he had plenty more in the tank producing a lovely double clear for fourth.

With his foxhunter double clears already sorted for next year, it's going to be an exciting 2022 for James, Jim and this smart son of the Heartbreaker sire, Del Pierro P+B.

The juniors didn’t fare as well as predicted, with one or two favourites dropping a pole, but what a night it was for Marni McMyn on the super Hoofprint Caleb. Having qualified for the Foxhunter final when jumping the only clear at SNEC, they finished fourth in the Masters at the national championships.

Last to go in the jump-off, having listened to the cheers and excitement throughout the 12-pony jump off, no one could’ve blamed Marni for showing nerves but when she set off through the start it was obvious she was taking up the challenge.

A turn back to the second fence found them on a really deep one with Caleb losing time when backing off and going high over the upright but landing and kicking on they started to catch the time up. The crowd really got behind them cheering them over the last and erupting when they landed clear.

Second place was theirs and the thrill of a lap of honour under the lights in this famous arena.

Drew Ross had two ponies through to HOYS in three classes. The little mare, Kengarth Sally Anne, collected some faults in the leading pony showjumper, but the eight-year-old Moon Man produced a smart double clear in the Newcomers to finish seventh and get the chance to gallop under the lights.

The whole of the Scottish junior community groaned when the last fence fell for Amy Morris in a strong leading pony showjumper. They won a sweetener class at SHOYS, before travelling south and facing the biggest track they’ll have seen for months.

Amy is highly talented and Tobar King really tried with it all going well until the final double where they took the back bar of the oxer going in. Delighted with this performance there was sadness in the Morris camp when the realisation that this would be their last HOYS as juniors hit home and the partnership with this slightly quirky but useful gey will come to an end.

Two poles fell for Sophie Anderson on Beezies Topic in the Foxhunter final but what a year they have had! Before heading south they added the Scottish Branch Scurry Championship title to their list of accolades when winning at SHOYS.

A former winner at HOYS, Ayr’s Lucy Stewart has been on blistering form all year with this month no exception. Following a successful trip to Hickstead, she came home to earn the title of Scottish indoor champion when her incredible partner, Cancun, did what he does best and galloped to the win over the 1.35m A10 track.

Cancun also won the 1.25m at the same show before two wins at Northcote and three at Aintree which included a 1.3/1.4m and a 1.25m winter championship.

Glow DK took two wins at SNEC, but had to play second fiddle to Cancun in two 1.2m classes at Northcote before he scooping two 1.2ms at Aintree.

Jortel La Vie hasn't been the easiest to produce, but after wins at SNEC and Northcote, she stepped up to win a Foxhunter at Aintree and with a bit more rideability this young horse will find the bigger tracks easy.

Noah’s Lady rubbed one pole out in her 138cm final to finish just outside the prizes but she and rider, Millie Lawson, have also had a fabulous year. They prepared for their trip to Birmingham with a convincing win in the Scottish 138cm championship to enjoy a lap of honour in the SHOYS Champions rug.

As per normal, the puissance at SHOYS proved entertaining, with the winner, Kelly Connor on Ben Wentink’s Erdento, clearing a whopping 1.82m to win this title for the second time.

Morris EC hosted some Scottish branch championships for both seniors and juniors over one weekend, where it was the turn of Emma Crawford riding Ferragamo to lift the £250 top prize and title when she became the Scottish Branch South-east champion, chased for the win by Fraser Reed on Ikyora and slotting into third with Dukes of Hazzard.

Little Lexi Lane rode a determined round to lift the Scottish 11 and under championship on Derrymore Lucky Lad, not an easy one to win when you have Owen Leitch chasing you on both his rides, Bronheulog Ruby and Tatty Desire.

Lexi was also seen beginning her partnership with Gail Rogan’s Remote Controlled jumping round the 95cm.

Another new partnership is that of Pebbles Walker on Maily 17. This young rider from Dundee has only had jumped a few classes on the 148cm black mare with the JC Indoor Championship their biggest test to date. A perfect double clear saw them earn their first rug together and bodes well for their future.

From Coylton, in Ayrshire, Fergal Holohan is in the lucky position of having ponies and horses to compete and showed skill when scoring in the Scottish South-east junior championship on the 148cm Little Flexible, before swapping onto the 17hh Kan Annie to win a National 1.3m open.

At Northcote, Scottish riders almost completed a clean sweep in a Silver Grand Prix when Airdrie’s Margo King was the delighted winner with her speedy Aldato’s Choice.

Margo wasn’t hanging around to take the win from the equally speedy Mischa Irving on Sir Marcus, then followed by Alistair Gatherum on Gerard VD Katten Eeck. Further down the line, in fifth, stood Rosie Pindar on Tullabeg Flynn, sixth was Mischa on Babe Star KZ and seventh Susan Deasy on her gorgeous grey, Pixie Van De Bucxtale.

Lucy Guild took next to no time out to get married and become Mrs Lucy Barclay and came back winning several 1.3m opens with her loyal Hugana VanT Heike, with the younger Irresistible Bella starting to prove just as capable at this level.

Sandy McLean carries on winning on a selection of horses up and down the country, most recently with another few owned by Jim Wilmer. Dee Dee Damour won a Foxhunter at Onley EC and speed merchant Crystalizer showed scope to head the two-fence challenge.