A sparkling performance from the Irish-bred Pebbly Aga Khan clinched the Winergy Burghley Young Event Horse four-year-old final.
Ironically, in a class conceived largely to promote breeding, the horse is of unknown parentage, but his star quality left the judges in no doubt that he was a worthy winner.
Piloted by Hayley Hankey, the marks he received from the first three judges — Annabel Scrimgeour (dressage), David Merrett (jumping) and Andy Bathe (conformation) — put him in the lead moving into the final judging. Jane Holderness-Roddam then placed him at the top of the line-up to win by almost 10 marks.
“The grey said ‘I’m first, forget the rest’,” commented Jane, who did a thorough job, asking the class to walk and trot on the opposite rein after their gallop. She added: “I look for a horse with a good walk and one which has its hocks underneath him.”
Hayley’s mother, Jane Beswick, found the 15.2hh Pebbly Aga Khan at Goresbridge sales in February — “He had such a super walk and good limbs,” said Jane — and the Igoe family bought him literally as soon as he stepped off the lorry.
“We went there to collect the money for one horse we had sold and ended up buying another. It was my daughter Katrina who fell in love with him,” explained Ivy Igoe.
Kate Allen, a vet who works at the University of Bristol, took second with her own chestnut Final Encore. John Rawding bred this Selle Francais, who is by Matinée — the sire of Polly Stockton’s four-star horse Tangle Man — out of Reoccurence, the Rawding’s champion show hunter.
Dovecote Dexters Ditto stood second in Jane Holderness-Roddam’s line-up, which promoted him to third place overall. Ridden by Julie Brodie, he was bred by Bernie Lake in Buckinghamshire. His sire is Sharon Mynard’s grade A show jumper and advanced eventer Dexter IV, a son of Dallas.
Darrell Scaife rode to victory on the classy five-year-old Thoroughbred Zeus Of Rushall for Jane and Barry Wookey. This horse is to be the last of the line of Rushall horses, which stretches back more than 20 years and through almost every letter of the alphabet.
The Wookeys bought Zeus as a foal from his Worcestershire-based breeder Mrs Aldersley. He is out of a race mare called Little Fighter by Regal Embers.
Barry said: “He was a little, rather weak foal but I always choose by looking at the dam. My wife helps, too — she can tell you if it’s a nice horse or not, although she couldn’t tell you why.”
Darrell and the Wookeys made this class their aim from the beginning of the year, although they had doubts the week before.
“We weren’t sure whether to come because he can be spooky,” said Darrell. “I was nervous as we circled at the end but I was chuffed to lead the points and the line-up.”
Shirley Marler’s Primitive Rising-sired Bolebec Aztec was second under Matthew Wright.
Ruth Edge was third on her own Tokay, whom she bought from Tim and Antonia Brown in February. The Browns imported him from Holland — he is by Indoctro out of a mare called Crystal, who is by Ahorn.
“I was attracted by his character. He always wants to please,” said Ruth, who would love to keep the ride, although Tokay is now for sale.
Last year’s four-year-old winner, Trebetherick, ridden by Sarah Cutteridge for Vin Jones’s Preci Spark stable, stood sixth and was best mare. The line-up also included two stallions, Take It 2 The Limit, fourth under Leslie Law, and Up With The Lark, ninth with Michael Jackson.
The top five horses in each class automatically qualify for the PAVO BE breeding championships, while the winner and runner-up have been invited to contest the finals of the Future Event Horse League in Ireland on 24 September.
“There was a complete mixture of horses in both classes but all were of a high standard,” summed up Jane Holderness-Roddam.