I have said before in this column that a championship is a separate class and you have to find something extra. By definition, a supreme championship takes it to the limit, as this year’s Royal International proved.

All credit to Jayne Ross on supreme champion Time 2 Reflect — but I know she’ll agree that Jordan Cook, reserve on his small hack, Fleetwater Xecutive, gave her a close run for her money after they finished on joint marks and prompted a two-horse ride-off.

As an amateur, Jordan brought this horse through from the Search For A Star series and then served his professional “apprenticeship” with Pearl Underwood. He’s worked hard and should be an inspiration to all amateurs dreaming of making showing a career and hitting the big time.

Congratulations, too, to the Eddis family and their supreme pony, the 133cm working hunter Beat The Boss. It’s rare for a worker to take this title, especially in such strong company.

The horse working hunter champions, Katrina Braithwaite on Kilderry Rupert, deserved their accolade. They jumped a fabulous clear and the horse has a great attitude. Katrina produces him from home —more proof that amateurs can beat professionals.

Coping with change

British Skewbald and Piebald Association day saw a total of 245 entries; the smallest class had 18 forward and the largest, 47. Some classes did their go-round in one ring, then were switched to another for the judge’s ride section. I hear some riders felt this unsettled their horses, but it kept classes running to time.

At this level, horses should adapt to different surroundings and I’m told the second ring was quieter — which should have been an advantage. Changes always spark some complaints, but you must have new ideas and I bet that next year, riders will accept the set-up. The alternative might have been to cut down on the number of qualifying places, which would have been far more unpopular.

The Ponies (UK) Dalkeith young riders M&M classes give young riders the chance to compete within limited age groups, without adults. Apparently some competitors would be happier if a marks system was used, so riders have a better idea of what judges were looking for.

Riders get used to the British Show Pony Society and National Pony Society marks systems, and many amateurs tell me they like to see where they can improve their ride marks. I grew up in the days before marks, so it isn’t something I get hot under the collar about.

As a judge, it can be useful to make notes when you have a big class, so you don’t miss entrants who deserve to be moved up. But at a show of this calibre, top judges are quite capable of working without marks — though organisers might want to think about it if there’s sufficient disquiet.

Finally, we should thank the stewards and officials; too often they are unsung heroes.

Ref: Horse & Hound; 6 August 2015