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The 2017 HOYS (Horse of the Year Show) Ruckleigh School Supreme Pony of the Year title went to Thistledown Van-Der-Vaart.

The grey gelding, who qualified when taking the Mountain & Moorland lead-rein pony of the year title, was ridden by seven-year-old Olivia Brightmore and led by Sharn Linney.

“He was so good,” said a delighted Sharn. “When they called the winning number, Olivia said ‘that’s me!’ and started kicking ‘Charles’ forward and I asked her if she was sure!”

Owned by Lucy Richardson, the Welsh section A that qualified at the Royal Cheshire County Show, put in a foot-perfect performance in front of a bumper HOYS crowd in an electric atmosphere.

“I can’t believe it — it’s the shock of my life,” admitted Sharn, who is celebrating her first HOYS supreme title. “Charles has qualified for the supreme three times, and it was very much a case of third time lucky tonight.”

Sharn bought Charles from stud as a four-year-old and she then sold him after one season.

“Thankfully, the owner has kept him with me for the past three seasons and he’s won practically every show going,” said Sharn, who is a full-time producer based in Staffordshire.

Olivia has ridden Charles this season and has enjoyed great success including at the Great Yorkshire Show.

“My favourite part this evening was waving as we went down the centre line on our lap of honour,” smiled Olivia. “It’s amazing to win and I’m looking forward to telling my friends at school tomorrow.”

Read the full report from HOYS in the next issue of Horse & Hound 12 October).