A showjumper unwittingly rattled my cage at the Hunter Show/Scope Festival last month when I overheard him refer to showing competitors as ‘‘the glitter brigade’’. Let me tell you, sir, that showing has produced many accomplished equestrians over the years and continues to do so.
Our greatest ambassador is without doubt Olympic golden girl Charlotte Dujardin, who enjoyed much success in the show ring, most notably with show pony of the year Ardenhall Royal Secret. She told me after Rio that showing has helped her to perform in front of crowds and use the ring, as well as deal with pressure from a young age.
Another is Nick Schofield, who took the supreme Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) accolade on show hunter pony Chiddock Over The Limit in 2004, before forging his racing career with trainer Paul Nicholls.
When Geoff Billington guest-edited the showjumping special issue (31 March), one of his “fantastic four” began her competition days in showing — Jemma Kirk rode the well-known lead-rein show pony Lechlade Melissa to many victories, including the HOYS mini title in 1995.
This month’s exciting British Show Pony Society (BSPS) Gold Cup Sports Pony final at Burghley Horse Trials showcased up-and-coming talent. I wonder if any of the 36 participants will win “the big event” one day — following in the footsteps of five former HOYS-winning show pony riders who achieved that honour.
Judy Bradwell rode Creden Lucky Charm to victory at Wembley in 1964, the year after Aly Pattinson claimed similar show pony championship honours on Pollyanna. Six years later, Judy won the Burghley title on Don Camillo and Aly followed suit on Carawich in 1975. Twelve months on, Jane Bullen triumphed at Burghley with Warrior. In 1965, she stood reserve at HOYS with Prosperity Of Catherston. Jane Thelwell, who rode the 1967 HOYS champion Favorita, took the Burghley crown in 1988 on Kings Jester.
The 1992 Burghley victor Charlotte Hollingsworth (The Cool Customer), won the HOYS 12.2hh class on Oakley Blue Breeze in 1975 and was spotted in the Gold Cup collecting ring this time helping her daughter, Daisy Bathe, in the 143cm class. Richard Ramsay found his champion
in Plasdavrene Matty’s Mate, ridden by Saffron Osborne, daughter of former National Hunt jockey and Flat trainer Jamie Osborne, himself a winner of many working hunter pony championships.
Back in the fold
Former BSPS chairman Jim McTiffin once described showing as “one big family’’, although members do come and go. This season, showing parents Chris and Jane Makin returned after a 17-year break and now home-produce the hotly tipped HOYS-bound working hunter Pembroke Grey Mist, ridden by Olivia Dales.
Some, however, like the Cooper family, who have won at HOYS no less than 23 times since Cathryn first triumphed in 1975 on Holly Of Spring, look to be in it for the long haul. Next month, Cathryn’s daughter, Sofia, has two Birmingham rides and Claudia’s son, Myles, will be riding, as well as leading a foal in the Cuddy final.
Good luck to everyone at HOYS.
Ref Horse & Hound; 22 September 2016