Tales from Hickstead: chance meeting at charity auction led to new Royal International-bound partnership

  • HUNTER specialist Cerys Evans is looking forward to a new ride at the 2021 Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) aboard Rebecca James’ eight-year-old heavyweight hunter Ali’s Real Bright Spark, aka Sparky.

    The opportunity came about after Cerys met Rebecca at a charity auction three years ago. The auction was organised by Cerys to raise rehabilitation funds for Katie Jerram-Hunnable’s former partner Rob Walker, who was paralysed after a hunting fall.

    “I got roped into organising it and Rebecca ended up buying some of the lots, including a lesson with Katie Jerram,” explained Cerys, who formerly enjoyed success with prolific amateur hunter Master Bandsman, aka Perky. “We got chatting and became friends, staying in touch.”

    At the lesson that Rebecca had won, Katie was impressed with Sparky and told Rebecca she should show him. Katie then ended up riding him for Rebecca in hunter classes.

    A year later, when Rebecca heard that Cerys had retired Perky, she offered her the ride on Sparky. That was in April this year and the new partnership have gone from strength to strength.

    “Rebecca keeps Sparky at home and enjoys hacking him and taking care of him, but she also wanted him to continue his showing career, so she offered me the ride on him,” said Cerys. “It worked out brilliantly for me, because I now have a horse that I can compete, but I still have plenty of time for my twin boys and my new business. Rebecca loves producing him from home and being fully involved, so it’s win, win.”

    Sparky and Cerys will contend the open and amateur heavyweight hunter classes at Hickstead.

    “We’ve had three outings and three wins including two RIHS tickets, a Horse of the Year Show ticket and he won at Royal Windsor,” said Cerys. “Everyone asked how I would ever replace Perky, but Sparky has the same temperament as him – he is just a delight and I am very lucky.”

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