The breeders of a rare Suffolk Punch have won the 2015 Horse & Hound outstanding mare award.

At the British breeders’ awards dinner held at the City Grange Hotel in London on Saturday, 10 January, the breeders of Whitton Daisy were presented with the prestigious H&H outstanding mare award.

Whitton Teazel, Whitton Hector and Whitton Violet

Whitton Teazel, Whitton Hector and Whitton Violet

Recipients Tom and Sandy Walne (pictured below, with H&H’s Sarah Jenkins and Alice Collins) were surprised to receive the award, having been up against a raft of successful mares from the Olympic disciplines.

“I just can’t believe that out of all the mares up for the award Daisy was chosen. I was quite expecting a polite letter saying she wasn’t what fitted the criteria for the award. I still haven’t come down to earth yet,” said Sandy, who received enthusiastic applause when picking up the trophy.

“This means so much to us — we put everything in to this and are delighted to be recognised like this.”

Whitton Daisy has produced six foals to date (four fillies and two colts), all of whom have had significant success on the county show circuit. Daisy stood best mare and foal at the Suffolk Show with her 2010 colt Whitton Teazel.

Breeders Awards 2015

The Walnes were overwhelmed by the positive feedback and support they garnered following the award.

“It was incredible how happy people were for us,” added Sandy. “And for her to be a rare breed and on the critical list; the award is the icing on the cake.”

Tom and Sandy were gifted Whitton Daisy’s mother Gurty after her former owners failed to get her in foal. With the help of the Suffolk Horse Trust — The Colony Stud at Hollesley Bay — the Walnes managed to get her in foal and produce Whitton Daisy.

Purdy's Dream

Purdy’s Dream

The runner-up was Graham Worrell’s late mare Purdy, the dam of the successful para horse Purdy’s Dream (pictured with Emma Sheardown) and the grand-dam of the showjumping stallion Argento (John Whitaker).

The winner in 2014 was Lynne Crowden, who picked up the accolade on behalf of her mare Woodlander Dornroschen, dam of the double world young horse champion, Farouche.

New beginnings for British breeders

This year, there was also excitement surrounding the recently formed British Breeders’ Network.

The guest speaker, Woodlander Stud’s Lynne Crowden, impressed upon the audience that the formation of the network offers breeders an opportunity to address concerns over the industry in the UK and make it better and more inclusive. The network aims to improve British breeding’s profile both at home and abroad, educate breeders and drive sales of British-bred horses.

Anyone wishing to register their interest is asked to email info@britishbreedersnetwork.org