Road to the SFAS finals: ‘He’s a sensitive soul’ – quirky Welsh cob defies the odds to become show ring champion

  • After an incredible first open season under saddle, the home-produced Welsh section D gelding Wishaw Red Admiral (Red) and his owner Simone Harrison are heading to Your Horse Live to compete in the SEIB Search For A Star (SFAS) finals. The duo picked up their ticket at Stoneleigh Park.

    Prior to purchasing Red, Simone — who works as a talent acquisition lead for the fashion brand Missguided — had lost a youngster bought from the Welsh pony and cob sales to wobblers syndrome.

    “I was gutted and got in touch with my friend, Ashley Peers, who is well connected in the Welsh pony world to see if she knew of anything for sale,” explains Simone. “Red wasn’t on the market but as Ashley knew what I’d been through, she said she would consider letting him come to me.

    “She sent me some pictures and I fell in love. He’d been turned away and was a complete blank canvas. He’s always been a sensitive soul and was scared of his own shadow. I broke him in and have done all the work with him myself, with help from my mum and some instruction along the way.”

    During his novice season in 2018, Red completely surprised Simone with his talent.

    “He blew me away; there weren’t many shows we came away from without a win or a championship and he also won a bronze medal,” she said. “Unfortunately, our second season was cut short as Red had to undergo a double stifle operation after the vet found he had a form of osteochondritis dissecans (OCD). When we found out we prepared for the worst, but thankfully after some time out he made a full recovery.”

    2021 has been Red’s first full season in the show ring. His impressive tally includes a sixth at the Royal International (RIHS) in the amateur M&M final, placings in Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) qualifiers and a second in the Welsh section D BSPS M&M supreme ridden qualifier at the BSPS Heritage championships.

    “While he’s quirky, he always tries his best for me and he’s a pleasure to do,” Simone said. “He’s a funny character; while you could ride him down the M6 motorway and he wouldn’t bat an eyelid, he will freak out if you wear a new pair of gloves or a bobble hat. He’s always been brilliant to ride but he can be a Welsh dragon on the ground. This year has been all about gaining mileage and letting him experience some new venues; he’s exceeded all my expectations. Hopefully we’ll achieve our dream of riding at HOYS one day.

    “When we qualified for the SFAS finals we nearly missed our class and didn’t have time to warm-up. Hopefully we’ll be more prepared for the final!

    “Red is my only horse so I can really concentrate on him in between work. My mum regularly hacks him out at home, while I do the schooling and competitions.”

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