Chilly Breeze takes SEIB Search for a Star title

Chilly Breeze and Lucy hopkins. Image credit Real Time Imaging

Chilly Breeze takes SEIB Search for a Star title

Lucy Hopkins from Shropshire, took the coveted top title in the SEIB Insurance Brokers Search for a Star Championship at the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) on the 8th of October. Lucy and her steel grey show hunter, Chilly Breeze were announced champions under the spotlight in the HOYS International Arena on Friday afternoon. The Search for a Star finals are the pinnacle of the season for amateur showing enthusiasts and celebrate giving people an opportunity to see their dreams come true. This series has been a fixture at HOYS since the nineties! Hundreds of spectators flock to watch these competitive finals and plenty vow to return with their horses in future years.

Amateur show horse riders have traveled the length and breadth of the country this summer in their quest to get through to the HOYS finals. With a plethora of classes on offer, the Search for a Star finals saw a total of fifty finalists earn theirhttp:// tickets.  Top show producer, Katie Jerram-Hunnable, and former Olympic eventer, Chris Hunnable judged conformation and leading show producer Jordan Cook was ride and performance judge.  Both Katie and Chris spoke over the microphone during the classes which provided some very educational and entertaining insights.

The winners of each of the Search for a Star section throughout the week at HOYS went forward to the Search for a Star Championship in the International Arena on the Friday afternoon of HOYS.  Chilly Breeze stood out under the spotlight in the HOYS main arena to win the top prize for Lucy Hopkins. Katie Jerram-Hunnable commented on the lightweight hunter’s: “Presence in the ring and attitude.” Jordan Cook added: “All the finalists this year were outstanding, our winner gave me a lovely mannerly ride”. Harriet Conlon and her Traditional Cob Search for a Star winner, Eye Candy II took the reserve title.

Lucy and Matty, as Chilly Breeze is known at home, won the Search for a Star hunter final on the Friday at HOYS and had just 40 minutes to prepare for their HOYS main arena performance in the Search for a Star championship. An elated Lucy said: “I am amazed and shocked, it is amazing to ride in the International Arena. I don’t think I have ever put a stock on and got changed so quickly! I thought going into the championship that I needed to keep going forward and use the gallop and show him off as a hunter. He loved it in there, this is possibly one of the most surreal experiences I’ve had. This is something you dream of, to have a horse like him after years of saving and waiting, it feels amazing.”

When not in the show ring, Lucy looks after her three-year-old daughter and works full time as a stud groom for the Wheatland Hunt. Lucy bought Matty from friends two years ago with a view to hunt him, she decided to give Search for a Star a go after lovely comments from local showing classes. Lucy has always dreamed of getting the chance to ride in the ring at HOYS and the opportunity presented itself when the pair qualified for the HOYS Search for a Star finals at the Onley Grounds qualifier.


Search for a Star reserve champion, Harriet Conlon and Eye Candy II qualified for the Search for a Star HOYS finals after trying open classes and feeling they needed more support. The pair won the traditional Search for a Star HOYS final to earn their place in the championship. Harriet was thrilled to take the reserve spot especially following the last 18 months. She explained more: “The past few months have been hard, I’ve been working as part of the COVID-19 response as a patient flow coordinator at Royal Stoke Hospital. So winning here at HOYS has given me a boost. I’m going to celebrate with champagne and cannot wait to tell the team at work about this.”


Sarah Adams and her own Athlone Lad took the title in the Search for a Star Cob final at HOYS. Athlone Lad has suffered from EMS and it has been a tricky job for Sarah to work out the best sugar-free feed for him to maintain his energy levels. Sarah nearly decided to sell him back at the start of Spring this year. She decided against it and was thrilled to be in the ribbons. Sarah said: “I can’t believe it, it’s been a real challenge to get here, but thanks to a lot of advice from my trainer and the Search for Star judges, we’ve done it! I’m so pleased I have given it a go.”


The riding horse hack final was as always run as one class at HOYS, with one hack winner and one riding horse winner, both going through to the Search for a Star Championship on the Friday.

Jordan Meakins partnered Trenavey Dazzler to the win in the riding horse section. Trenavey Dazzler is owned by Sylvia Meakins. Following her win, Jordan said: “What an experience! I am still in shock and totally speechless. Dazzler is such an amazing, honest little horse that really will turn his hoof to anything.” Trenavey Dazzler is by Catherston Dazzler and his damsire is Welton Apollo. Jordan and Dazzler previously evented up to novice level, but following a bad fall, Jordan decided to give showing a go. Jordan says that showing is really helping to boost her confidence.

The hack section was won by Bethany Phoenix and her own, Molecule One. Bethany, a self-employed hairdresser bought Molecule One 18 months ago from the Broomhill Stud. The pair qualified for the Search for a Star Finals at Richmond Equestrian Centre. Bethany said: “Pearl is my horse of a lifetime, anything you ask of her she does and takes in her stride. It has always been my dream to ride at HOYS and I am so grateful that Search for a Star has given me that opportunity. Riding in the TopSpec is just amazing. I’m looking forward to campaigning her in the opens next year.”


The title of 2021 Search for a Star went to Lucy Hopkins from Bridgnorth, Shropshire and her own seven-year-old steel grey Irish Sports Horse, Chilly Breeze. Lucy works full time as a stud groom for the Wheatland Hunt as well as looking after her three-year-old daughter. Lucy said: “My wonderful family and friends are an amazing support and have helped me make this dream come true. We bought Chilly Breeze to be a hunter, but he has just grown and grown and loves being in the show ring! He is grumpy at home, but seems to enjoy being out and about like today.” It was a quick turn around for Lucy as 30 minutes after winning the Hunter title, she needed to be changed and ready to go into the HOYS International Arena for the Search for a Star final.


The second Search for a Star traditional cob HOYS final was held on the Wednesday of HOYS. This popular class is open to traditional cobs registered with the Traditional Gypsy Cob Association and ridden by amateur riders.

Winning the final was Harriet Conlon from Stoke-on-Trent and her own Eye Candy II. Harriet has owned Eye Candy for four years and whilst the pair have competed in plenty of open classes, they never quite got to HOYS, it was then that Harriet decided to give Search for a Star a go. “Diesel is an amazing pony, he is my best friend. I think my nerves sometimes let us down and Search for a Star has really helped my confidence, I’m looking forward to giving the opens a go with him next year. I’m a Patient Flow Coordinator for the covid ward at the Royal Stoke Hospital and being able to ride Diesel and look forward to HOYS has kept me going.”


The working horse and pony final was as always run as one class at HOYS, with one horse winner and one pony winner, both going through to the Search for a Star Championship on the Friday.

Taking the title in the working pony section was Julie Carter and her part-bred Welsh pony, Senny Cymro. Julie works for Renishaw Engineering in Gloucestershire and bought Senny Cymro from her riding instructor, Gemma Todd to compete in showing classes. Julie said: “Charlie pony is a dream, I bought him to help me build my confidence. I saw my friend take part in Search for a Star in 2018 and after watching her, I wanted to have a go. I used to show when I was younger and so it has always been my dream to ride at HOYS.”

Winning the Working Horse section was Polly Baker and her 11-year-old bay gelding, Latice. Polly lives in Norfolk and works in Newmarket as a secretary at the Newmarket Equine Hospital and her parents look after Latice in the week. Polly rides and looks after him at the weekends. Polly said: “He is a real allrounder, we do lots of hacking and try to go to the beach near us. I couldn’t believe it when they announced me as the winner. I am so delighted with him, despite 10 days of poulticing and a broken saddle in the lead up to HOYS, it’s been great!”

SEIB Insurance Brokers set up the Search for a Star series, with its HOYS finals, 25 years ago to give amateur riders and their horses the chance to compete at the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS). The series has led to many thrilled competitors achieving this dream.

SEIB Marketing Manager Nicolina Mackenzie said: “Search for a Star has had a fantastic year in 2021. It has been great to be back out and offering our qualifiers and this final to our riders. It will be lovely to see what our well deserving winners of our classes go on to do next. Search for a Star has now been around for long enough that we are seeing the next generation of competitors taking part. We have had several competitors this year that have come along to give it a go having had HOYS feature as a dream since they were children. Search for a Star really is about helping riders make their dreams come true”

Leading equine Insurance brokers, SEIB Insurance Brokers provide cover for horses, horseboxes, yards, and much more.   The company has a long association with the showing world and is renowned for ‘putting something back’ by supporting equestrian events and activities.

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