Horse of Year Show honour for Burnley rider

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Horsewoman Beverley Neal is riding high after winning the prestigious Horse of the Year show.

It was the first time Beverley had entered the show with her horse, Eldrick Rocco, and the duo beat off stiff competition from 21 other rivals to claim the Best in Show in the National Pony Society Welsh section D.

Horse of the Year show

Horse of the Year show

“I was overwhelmed when they called my name out as the winner,” said Beverley of Manchester Road, Burnley.

“I am walking on Cloud Nine and just can’t stop smiling. This is the first time I have ever entered the show and Rocco won. It is the highest achievable accolade, where can we go after this?”

Stallion pony Rocco won his place in the arena at the Horse of the Year Show after winning several preliminary rounds, including competing at the Cheshire Great Show when he came top out of 53 in his class.

Beverley added: “Rocco has won everything he has entered so I think he has earned himself a little break now. “All the hard work, time and effort we have put into this has paid off.”

A party of 22 family and friends, including her brother Russell and nephews Kyle (five) two-year-old Aidan and Leon, who is 15, watched Beverley and Rocco romp to victory. And Beverley attributed her success to her late father, Mr Brian Neal, who died six years ago.

She said: “He always told me to be determined and follow my dream and achieve what I wanted in life and I have.”

Mad on horses since she was a little girl, Beverley (40) specialises in stallions and first met Rocco when she was asked to break him for his Scottish owner Bobby Blacklock. He was so impressed with Beverley he has asked her if she would consider showing him. Beverley jumped at the chance and Bobby was there to see the duo win.

Beverley said: “Bobby was so thrilled he just burst into tears. He does not have the best of health and could not do this himself so he was so proud of us.”

Also sharing in the glory are Beverley’s proud fiancee Craig McGoogan and her three children, Samuel (21) 19-year-old Matthew and Courtney who is 15 and suffers from cerebral palsy. Beverley is her daughter’s full time carer as the condition means Courtney is confined to a wheelchair. But she goes to the stables every Sunday with her mum to see Rocco and Beverley’s other horse, George, a four-year-old Highland pony.

Beverley added: “Courtney loves going to see them and they are so gentle and loving with her.”