‘He was just annoyed he missed his morning snooze’: Dartmoor delights connections with top title on his Royal International debut

  • THE smallest contender of the Corroconsult British Show Pony Society (BSPS) Heritage ridden supreme championship made the biggest impression to scoop the title on his Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) debut.

    This was Felicity Thompson’s home-bred Dartmoor stallion Salombe Starehole Bay ridden by his producer Katy Marriott-Payne. Katy has produced ponies for the Thompson family for several years and “Cecil” descends from a long line of breed champions.

    Despite being a seven-year-old, 2021 is Cecil’s first full season under saddle and he’s already bound for the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) and Liverpool.

    Conformation judge Jill Godden agreed that the champion is the ultimate breed ambassador.

    “He is so beautiful in type,” she said.

    “He had the panache and pizzazz that some of the others perhaps lacked,” added ride judge Mary Rose Cole. “Both champion and reserve (Skargaardens Delicious Love) were beautifully produced, too.”

    Cecil is by three time-HOYS finalist Shilstone Rocks Snowy Mountain and was bred by Felicity as an out-cross, being out of a Hisley-bred mare. His granddam is Felicity’s daughter, Freya’s former lead rein pony, Shilstone Rocks Musada

    “These lines have never met before Cecil,” said Felicity. “It’s given him good bone and type. He didn’t mature until he was a six-year-old so we’ve been patient, and he’s taken everything in his stride. Obviously we have the help of a very good jockey.”

    Katy was also overjoyed to win the prestigious accolade:

    “There were so many beautiful ponies in there,” she said. “Cecil had a great day, though his class was in at 7.30am so he was a bit annoyed that he missed his usual morning snooze. At home he’d have his breakfast and be back in bed at the time we were in the ring.

    “He’s never heard a crowd like it. He loves the occasion and thankfully he’s got the swagger to go with it.”

    Felicity breeds between four and six foals per year, and noted that Cecil’s half brother, Salcombe Frowder Cove, won here two years ago, too, with Katy.

    “We’ve had his first crop of foals and one day I’ll find Cecil a suitable crop of wives,” said Felicity.

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