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Search For A Star Finalists To Finalists To Take Centre Stage At HOYS

Judging commentary is a bonus for audiences, say organisers

The South Essex Insurance Brokers "Search for a Star" competition, which gives amateur riders and owners the opportunity to compete nationally, is this year to take centre stage at the Horse of the Year Show.

Judging for the competition's Supreme Champion title will be held in the main arena on Friday (October 8). "This is the supreme accolade," said South Essex Insurance Brokers managing director Barry Fehler. "We started this search for amateur talent in 1996, and in eight years the competition has achieved recognition throughout the horse world and our winners have gone on to make their marks in prestigious open classes countrywide."

One of the most popular elements of "Search for a Star" is that at selection days competitors can discuss their horses with the judges after each class and at the Birmingham final, judges Robert Oliver and Anne Pritchard use radio microphones to give a commentary on their thoughts and opinions of the horses and ponies forward for judging.

And Mike Gill, a director of the HOYS organising company, Grandstand Media, said: "There is no doubt that this is a popular series with both competitors and spectators. What helps to draw the crowds is the commentary given by the judges, and because many people who come to the Horse of the Year Show are not familiar with showing, we thought it would help if we put the supreme judging before as many people as possible"

Mr Fehler added: "The audiences as well as the competitors seem to really appreciate this opportunity to get first-hand opinion from the experts. You also get confirmation of the competition's standing by the number of professionals in the audiences with cheque books in their pockets - not that many of our winners seem to be interested in selling!"

Judging for the Search for a Star individual champions will be Wednesday and Thursday, while Friday's audiences - who will be taking advantage of tickets which allow them to see both afternoon and evening performances - will be able to see both the final and judging for the Hunter championship.

The 2004 search for previously unrecognised horses and ponies starts on June
19 at Addington Equestrian Centre and moves on to Merrist Wood (June 26),
Hand Equestrian Centre (July 11), Osbaldeston (July 18) and Towerlands (July 31).

"We have introduced new venues and returned to some we used earlier in the series for our qualifying classes so that as many people as possible get an opportunity to be selected for the final," said organiser Nicolina MacKenzie, the company's equine marketing manager.

In the last seven years, finalists have been given the opportunity to compete at the Royal International Horse Show, Royal Windsor Horse Show and the Horse of the Year Show, which is now held at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, this year on October 6 - 10.

Categories for this year are unchanged and are.-

Working Hunter
Riding Club Show Horse
Show Ponies and Show Hunter Ponies
Show Hunter
Riding Horse/Hack

Entry fee is £32, with reductions for British Horse Society members and anyone insuring through South Essex Insurance Brokers. Entry forms and more information are available by sending a self addressed envelope to The Secretary, Search for a Star, 5 Magpie Drive, Totton, Southampton, SO40 8TE


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