A RYEDALE rider’s victory in a Horse of the Year qualifier almost didn’t happen, after she got not one but two flat tyres on her trailer while en route to the event.

Fran Embleton, of Ryton near Malton, picked up the flat tyres half a mile into the 135-mile journey to Vale View in Melton Mowbray on August 6, where she was due to compete in the SEIB Search for a Star working show horse qualifier.

It was around 5am on the Sunday. Ms Embleton said: “At that point I accepted I’d miss my class.” She called round anyway to see if anyone was up and could help.

“As it happened, her friend Tessa Nelson, from Norton, who was also travelling down, came to the rescue. They loaded Ms Embleton’s 18-year-old horse Blue into the wagon and set off, as fast as possible.

“It’s not good when your class starts at 9.30am and the sat nav says you’ll get there at 9.47,” she said.

Fortunately, phoning ahead meant the organisers could shift things around and put Blue in the second section instead of the first.

They got there with 10 minutes to spare. Ms Embleton said it was skin-of-the-teeth stuff.

“Blue must love a quick warm-up because at 18 years old he excelled himself today, picking up first place and a HOYS ticket. He pulled it out the bag,” she added.

Ms Embleton has had Blue, who is 15 hands, since he was three. The working show horse class, which is new this year and includes a couple of small jumps, was perfect for the horse.

“I entered this one on the day the entries closed. I thought, ‘What the heck! Neither of us is getting any younger and this might be our last chance.’ Someone was definitely looking down on me.”

Search for a Star is designed to give amateur riders an opportunity to compete at the Horse of the Year Show and to identify top class horses which otherwise may not be given the opportunity to compete at this level. Ms Embleton will now be going to the HOYS in Birmingham in October.