Is this a record? Meet the home-produced Dartmoor who has won 18 HOYS tickets over his career

  • The Dartmoor pony Pumphill Fandango (Roy) is set to compete in his 18th Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) final next month.

    Roy is owned by Zara Johnstone-Evans and her 13-year-old son, Toby. This season the gelding is heading to Birmingham in both the junior small breeds and open Dartmoor finals.

    Zara bought Roy just over eight years ago and he has been home-produced for the duration of his career.

    “He’s our pony of a lifetime,” says Zara, who rode Roy to win his first-ever HOYS pass in 2015 as an open pony.

    In 2016, Roy provided Toby with his first HOYS ticket in lead rein ranks. That same year he also qualified as a junior pony with Charlotte Thompson and as an open with Zara.

    “He was also mini M&M champion at Royal Windsor that year, too,” says Zara, who runs her own cleaning business. “He has taken Toby from a tiny lead rein jockey to competing in open classes against the adults.”

    Pumphill Fandango: HOYS and RIHS winner

    In 2017, Roy qualified for the same finals once again and Zara won the open small breeds class at the Royal International with him. The following year, Roy added another string to his bow and qualified for HOYS as a first ridden with Maisie Chester, the pair winning the class at the final.

    “Maisie was having a tricky time with her own pony so I said she could ride Roy for the 2018 season, and they qualified for HOYS first time out,” Zara recalls.

    Toby has since taken Roy’s reins as a first ridden, as a junior ride and as an open pony.

    “When we bought Roy, Toby was just four years old, and now he’s 13,” Zara says. “He’s never been shown that much — it’s expensive trekking up and down the country — but he’s always won his tickets easily. Toby is very animal orientated and he loves his ponies. He loves going to shows, too, and this year he was so determined to get his first ride in the opens so he can stay at HOYS for the whole week!

    “I have pretty much retired from riding in the ring, as in 2021 I broke my leg and I now find it hard to ride for an entire class. But thankfully Toby has stepped up to the mark and he can now school and show Roy.

    “Roy can be a spooky little bugger but we know him inside out now. He’s so sensible in some ways but in other ways he’s very cheeky. But he’s been very easy to home-produce and we’re so grateful to have him in our lives.”

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