Road to RIHS: meet the ultra-versatile pony with four tickets in the bag…

One super-star pony and his two jockeys will be having a busy time at Hickstead this year.

Sue Heath’s Welsh section A gelding Friars All Gold — also known as Pedro — has qualified for four ridden classes at this year’s Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) with both Liam Kirby, age 10, and Aliya Khan, age 15.

Despite winning his qualifications in the mountain and moorland (M&M) first ridden, junior ridden and open Welsh section A and B ranks with ease, his journey to a working hunter pony ticket was a little more complicated.

“The road to his worker ticket wasn’t plain sailing,” says Sue, who originally bought Pedro as a stallion and had him gelded for her son Liam to compete. “Pedro had an amazing win at the Royal Windsor in May over a huge and testing track. But unfortunately we were not awarded the qualification due to National Pony Society membership card not being presented in the ring. We were devastated but didn’t give up.

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“He was unlucky in the next few qualifiers, with a slip in wet ground at one and an unlucky pole at another. The final qualifier was at Midland Counties. It was our last chance to get the qualification. Unfortunately Aliya had badly sprained her ankle so top jockey Sarah Parker kindly stepped in and rode a super round to finally be rewarded with that golden ticket to the RIHS.

“He is such a fantastic, versatile pony. He does the junior and mini classes with Liam and he can then step up a gear for Aliya. We’re all very proud of him.”

For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday. This week’s magazine is a bumper edition – to celebrate our 135th birthday. To mark the occasion we commissioned a very special fold-out magazine cover celebrating many of our equestrian heroes….