‘I honestly don’t know what else I can say about this wonderful pony’: winners crowned at BSPS Heritage Championships

  • The 2021 HOYS M&M champion continues his exceptional run by claiming the supreme honour at the BSPS Heritage Championships at Arena UK, Lincs on 16–17 October

    A STELLAR fortnight concluded for Team Forster/Jinks when Karen Johnson’s reigning Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) champion, Menai Eurostar (GB), remained perfectly on track for rider/producer Adam Forster to take his – and the pony’s – first British Show Pony Society (BSPS) overall Heritage supreme title.

    A simple, stylish and effective show from the stunning Welsh section D stallion certainly wowed the judges, newly crowned equestrian personality of the year Allister Hood and his wife Anne.

    “Our champion had everything,” said Allister. “Its basic conformation and wellbeing were also excellent – it was good to see it was not too fat – plus it looked a picture.

    “I was very pleased with all the riders, though – they were all worthy champions in their own right and each tried to do something a little different to show their ponies off to their very best.”

    GB’s journey began on day one when he comfortably headed his LeMieux semi-final ahead of a field of 20, dropping only six marks from a possible 100 to earn his Liverpool mountain and moorland (M&M) supreme final place – the original purpose of the team’s attendance. In the evening performance, he remained straight and true to capture the day’s ridden supreme, again performing the simple, effective show for which the pair are justly renowned.

    “I honestly don’t know what else I can say about this wonderful pony – it is a huge honour to have him,” enthused Adam. “Not only is he a showing superstar, but he is full of charisma too, with a huge dose of cheeky chappie thrown in for good measure. He has many funny traits – if he decides he has had enough of the field and wants to come back in, he will think nothing of lifting the gate off its hinges and making his way back to the yard and into his stable.

    “He gives me 100% every time I sit on him; he has the heart of a lion – always trying and surpassing every expectation.

    “The Sunday [overall supreme] result was a dream and the icing on the cake, and to be judged by showing royalty such as the Hoods was the ultimate honour for me. Allister has been my idol all my life.”

    Bumper entries boost numbers

    THE lure of Liverpool proved just as popular as Olympia has in the past – if not more so – as a grand seasonal finale for the LeMieux ridden natives, who flocked to Arena UK in their droves to contest the semi-finals and individual breed qualifiers. The end-of-season overall Heritage titles at all levels – and a range of Royal International (RIHS) 2022 qualifiers – were a welcome and well-supported additional bonus.

    Bumper entries – free for semi-finalists – boosted numbers to yet another record, making this the most successful Heritage show in its 15-year history under the auspices of the BSPS. It was also refreshing to see several new names on the prize-lists, along with well-deserved rewards for the dedicated professionals.


    Nina Invictus

    Cheshire-based home-producing university student Caitlin Hamilton, 20, was one such new name, and her family’s dedication was rewarded with a first-ever Olympia/Liverpool ticket in the marathon large breeds semi-final and the second day’s overall ridden Heritage supreme with their beloved Dales pony Nipna Invictus (Victor), junior winner at the RIHS – another career first – and junior champion here.

    “I’ve never even been to the LeMieux final to watch, so I can’t believe we’ve actually qualified for it,” said a clearly overcome Caitlin, who was quick to credit her mother Kirsty and grandfather Keith for their support. “Victor is just so, so special and always tries so hard, but I honestly never expected this. Just to have been called into the evening performance in the top nine was a mega thrill in itself. I have to keep pinching myself. If someone had told me this would have been our results, I’d have said not a chance!

    “Mum and I love the Heritage show; we only came for a nice weekend.”

    Haygate Prince John

    Haygate Prince John

    Another successful home-producer was North Yorkshire-based charity payroll administrator Jade Neal, who “qualified” her attractive roan home-bred Welsh B Haygate Prince John not once but twice for the Sunday supreme in worker ranks. The pair nailed the first day’s novice worker title before standing overall supreme champion, repeating this on day two after winning the restricted section and taking the title there, too.

    “My winner had good conformation and gave an excellent show – its transitions were particularly good and it had a great gallop,” said judge Terry Pattinson.

    This is another tightly knit family affair, as Jade’s grandfather, Howard Jackson – who used to have racehorses and now breeds and races pigeons – bought Prince’s dam, Rhydspence Sapphire, from Chris Gibbons of the Rhydspence Stud who supplied Jade’s first pony, the successful Rhydspence Roseanne. Jade’s parents, Tracey and Tommy Neal, help with the production, but previous commitments meant that the family almost did not stay for the evening performances.

    “I’m so glad we did,” said a relieved Jade, who narrowly missed out on a ridden HOYS ticket with Prince this year and for whom it was a first Heritage title. “We’ve been doing a mix of flat and jumping classes, but just to get round the worker course here was my aim – we needed to jump as many different tracks as possible with him. He is just ace – a real fun pony you can do anything with. He loves himself; the more cheering and clapping the better he likes it.”

    Danwood Llewellyn

    It was mission accomplished at the very first attempt for another home-producer/breeder, Hannah Atkinson – also based in North Yorkshire – when Danwood Llewellyn won his Welsh C semi-final. The 2018 HOYS winner has been only lightly shown this term, but was Silver Medal champion at Three Counties and qualified for the semis at Area 2B.

    “We decided to give the semi-final a go this year as Liverpool is a lot closer to us than London,” said Hannah, who combines breaking and schooling ponies with work-riding for the Emmerson/Harforth team. “We didn’t even enter the breed classes on the second day as we had other commitments – it was this or not at all.

    “I can always rely on him to try his hardest for me so I never have my worries going into the ring on him, but it was a very strong class today so I knew we had to pull it out of the bag to get in the top three – I was totally shocked to win, though.”

    Lilly Ahern-Lee, nine, and the Brightmores’ ever-charming coloured Shetland, Lotuspoint Cassius, enchanted yet again to gain Lilly a first-ever LeMieux ticket via the small breeds semi-final, for which previous jockey Olivia Brightmore – now sadly too tall – had earned a rollover pass due to Covid.

    “This was the first and only Liverpool class Lilly has done,” said proud aunt Kirsty Pickles.

    History-making New Forest

    LovelyHill Folklore

    SELF-STYLED “semi-professional” Vikki Smith was kept busy, heading a well-filled ridden RIHS 2022 qualifying section with Kate Waite’s lovely Dales stallion Nipna James Britannia – a full-brother to Nipna Invictus – who gained his Liverpool ticket here along with Penny Sutton’s New Forest stallion Lovelyhill Folklore (James).

    James, now 10, is believed to be the only Forester ever to have qualified for RIHS and HOYS workers, and HOYS and LeMieux riddens in the same season, and here earned his Liverpool pass by a cool five marks.

    “He’s also covered nine mares this season so he’s been a busy boy,” said Vikki, who combines producing ponies with running a hairdressing salon. “Thankfully, he has not just the ability but the temperament to cope with almost anything – I’m so lucky to have him.”

    Katy Marriott-Payne added a fourth Liverpool ticket, this time with her own section B mare, Clanmill Leteika Miracle.

    Sam Roberts not only qualified Jane Mathews’ HOYS Connemara runner-up, Coral Malachy – also a successful dressage campaigner with his owner – but also landed the restricted ridden title with her own exciting four-year-old Welsh section B Weydown Montagu; she also took the open worker championship aboard Aimee Stunt’s Lledrith Nemesis.

    Sarah Parker added two further LeMieux tickets here, with Eastlands Dunknowe (Connemara) and Tarbarl Luke At Me (Dales), also bringing her total to four for the final.

    In the genes – Twin sisters in the spotlight

    Towergate First Impression

    TWO delightful home-produced ponies, ridden by 10-year-old twin sisters Evanthe and Tabitha Hughes, each had their spin in the limelight – and competed against each other in the second day’s final reckoning.

    Tabitha kicked off the family’s run on day one when partnering the charming palomino Welsh B Towergate First Impression (Cracker) – tiny tots worker champion here last year on the family’s Heritage debut – to win the 55cm training and novice cradle stakes classes before landing the novice mini worker title and overall mini supreme.

    “This is a very sweet pony – anyone would be happy to put their grandchildren on it,” was judge Pat Pattinson’s summing-up.

    Cracker, now 11, has been with the family for five years and comes from an illustrious line, being by Colne Turbo out of the multiple HOYS finalist Waitwith Connie.

    “We keep him at home and Tabitha adores him,” said the girls’ mother Miranda. “She does first ridden and worker classes, as well as lots of Pony Club activities – including camps. To ride that diagonal line out of the ring on a lap of honour has been her dream for many years.”

    It was sister Evanthe’s turn on day two, when she partnered her open mini champion Springbourne Compas to land the Heritage supreme mini title. The seven-year-old was bought just-backed from Georgia Aungier three years ago and previously competed successfully as a lead-rein and first ridden, qualifying for Hickstead.

    “He is a really scopey and brave jumper though, and we’re planning to concentrate on workers with him,” added small animal orthopaedic vet Miranda, who produces the family’s six ponies at home with help from husband Tom, an equine surgeon. “Georgia Darlington has helped us a lot to bring on his jumping.

    “The girls are very supportive of each other – but also highly competitive!”

    • This report will also be available to read in H&H magazine, on sale Thursday 28 October

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