Of the 138 mares forward at this year’s SHB (GB) gradings, 41 achieved head studbook status, with 54 going into the main studbook and 36 becoming foundation studbook mares.
The top mare was Ann Burnet’s The Tourmaline Rose, whose greatest claim to fame under saddle was three wins in Hickstead’s Eventing Grand Prix with Pippa Funnell.
Anne bought the daughter of Crown Cornelion out of a brilliant Irish hunter mare as a yearling in 1990 from her breeder, Carol Hill, after spotting an advert in Horse & Hound.
“I had to make the decision quickly because someone else was interested. I hoped I hadn’t made a mistake,” she recalls.
When Pippa Funnell expressed an interest in riding another of Anne’s horses, Designer Tramp, “Rosie” was part of the deal. As well as reaching advanced level in eventing, she was a grade A show jumper and was placed with Pippa in the speed Derby at Hickstead. Rosie has now been retired and her first foal, by Mayhill, is due at the end of March.
Another successful eventer, Doreen Allison’s Ballingowan Xena, made the top five mares. Bred in Co Galway, the 10-year-old by the Thoroughbred Easy Lift out of an Irish Sport Horse mare gained 23 Irish eventing points by the age of six, the same year she competed at Blarney Castle CCI. As a four-year-old, she won the lightweight hunter mare class at Royal Dublin. Doreen bought her in Yorkshire this year in-foal to Rainbow High. This will be Xena’s third foal, having also produced offspring by Primitive Rising and City Honours.
A second Irish-bred mare, Trea Newell’s Eoneve, was also among the top mares. Similarly bred to Ballingowan Xena, she is by the Thoroughbred Bonnie Prince out of an Irish Sport Horse mare. “Eve” was bought by Trea as a four-year-old and after completing her education in the hunting field went on to become a champion middleweight and ladies’ hunter with Loraine Homer. Trea hunts Eve with the Croome and West Warwickshire, and hopes to put her in-foal in the next two years.
British breeding received a boost when Susan Kerfoot’s Simply Emerald joined The Tourmaline Rose in the top five. Bred in Suffolk by the Haag family, Emerald is by Sportsnight out of a part-bred Melford Ben mare. She was given to Susan, who already owned her full sister, after an injury stopped her advanced eventing career. Emerald is now in-foal to the advanced stallion Mill Law.
The show jumpers were represented in the top five by Pat Morris’s 16-year-old Catchas Catchcan. This mare is of unknown breeding but proved herself by accumulating £22,500 in winnings. She was ridden by Sharon Wild into second place in the national grade B final at the 1995 HOYS and competed internationally with Sharon, Geoff Glazzard and Derek Morton.