‘He has something you just can’t teach.’: Robert and Sarah Walker enjoy side-by-side victory lap in hack championship

  • Husband and wife team Robert (Rob) and Sarah Walker once again cemented their family name as the best in the business by clinching both champion and reserve tickets in the Brereton supreme hack championship at the 2021 Royal International Horse Show on their respective small and large victors.

    Their king of the ring was Nick Brookes’ impeccable 11-year-old Parkgate Royal Visit William, a winner of the intermediate tri-colour here in 2017 with Emma Dewhurst and reserve hack champion in 2019 with Robert. The charismatic gelding is also the reigning Small Hack of the Year.

    “We’d seen him on the circuit in and around the north west with Emma in the intermediates,” reminisced Rob. “He was the horse everyone tried to buy. He has a cadence and rhythm that you just can’t teach. He’s a one off.”

    Rob says that at home Will is the ‘easiest of horses’ to train:

    “My dad always used to say that if they can do it well in a headcollar they will probably do it in a bridle,” he said. “You can teach this horse things as he finds it all very natural.”

    Will was sourced for Nick’s daughter, Zara, to compete in intermediate classes:

    “He’s the perfect ride to bridge the gap between horses and ponies,” said Rob, who also noted that unfortunately, due to the class clashing with the hack championship, Zara was unable to ride Will in her intermediate final here.

    Reserve went to Sarah Walker partnering Miranda Wallace’s 10-year-old Forgelands Hyde Park, champion to his stable mate here in 2019, with Jayne Ross. During his class, Hyde Park was ridden by Rob, but Sarah took the reins during the final reckoning.

    When asked how he chose which horse to pilot in the championship, Rob said:

    “I’ve often chosen Hyde Park as he is the reigning HOYS champion. But today, it felt like it was Will’s day and he was on amazing form. Though, credit must be given to Hyde Park who gave a flawless ride in his class.”

    Ian Smeeth assessed the ride:

    “The small was really of type,” he said. “He was the most magnificent ride. He was like a sports car; he had all the gears and was effortless. He was also an out and out showman.”

    The second placed small hack, Absolutely Lovely, was unfortunately not presented for judging after “hurting himself outside of the ring.”

    Second placed large was Jayne Ross and Kay Campbell’s seven-year-old mare Ballarin Rosabella.

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