An intermediate caps off a stellar week for a team, a Welsh pony and his rider head the home-produced pack and a novice is leading show pony at British Show Pony Society (BSPS) Summer Championships at Arena UK, Lincs
TEAM FORSTER/JINKS crowned a mega-successful week at the BSPS Summer Championships when Reise Shakespeare lifted the Philip Judge overall supreme title with a beautifully executed performance on the stunning small intermediate, Shildons Plan B (Bart).
Bumper entries, bumper attendance and classes full of quality combined to make this year’s show not only a major triumph for the society, but an unforgettable experience for all involved. The atmosphere was electric by the time the curtain came down on the final evening, when 11 superb champions – already supreme of their type – came forward for assessment by Jennifer Williams.
After a short show from each one, she pulled a delighted Reise, 16, forward with Vicki Rudd’s home-bred Kilvington Scoundrel seven-year-old, who had claimed his – and Reise’s – first Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) intermediate ticket here at the first time of asking, before standing section champion to earn his place in the show finale.
“This is a beautiful pony,” said Jennifer. “It is very attractive, with good conformation and correct limbs. It is absolutely correct of its type, knew its job and did it.”
The victory was all the more sweet as it was a last-minute decision to bring Bart – through to HOYS as a hack with producer Adam Forster – to the show.
“Reise has been with us since finishing his GCSEs in May and as a reward for his hard work, Bart’s owner decided to let him make an intermediate debut here,” explained Adam.
Although this was Reise’s first overall BSPS supreme, he is no stranger to the HOYS spotlight, having won on the multi-garlanded 122cm show hunter pony Thistledown Viva Las Vegas in 2014 and 2015.
“Reise is dedication personified,” added Adam. “He adores his ponies, trains so hard and has the biggest, most burning desire to win – just what you want in a top showing jockey. We always say as soon as he gets on a pony, he’s like a professor behind his desk: head down and concentrating on his job.”
Adam had his own share of glory, claiming the supreme Heritage ridden pony award for the second year running with Karen Johnson’s striking Welsh section D, Menai Eurostar, champion at Midland Counties and North of England and runner-up at Hickstead this term.
For the first time, the team had four ponies through to the overall supreme, with Tilly Leech having landed the supreme mini award aboard the exquisite first ridden campaigner Barkway Alfie Moon, and Charlotte Caulfield standing supreme show hunter pony with last summer’s overall victor, the five-year-old Romanno Spot of Distinction.
“It was definitely our best-ever championships,” said Adam. “I’m so proud of our riders – I always tell them to practise at home as though they’ve never won before, but ride in the ring as if they were already champion.”
Two clears over stunning course at BSPS Summer Championships
A MAJOR ambition on the worker circuit is just to jump clear in a Desert Orchid class, and to win and stand champion is right up there alongside HOYS and the Royal International (RIHS). This year, for the first time, Northumberland-based William Pittendrigh, 22, and his pure-bred Irish Draught intermediate “pocket rocket”, Silver Lough (Scully), ticked all three boxes.
Course-builder Graham Barclay once again excelled himself, producing a truly amazing track for the BSPS Summer Championships which was up to height, imaginative, visually stunning and eminently fair – but required positive, accurate riding. There were only two clears from the whole section – one from Scully and the other from intermediate class runners-up, Ellie Callwood and Fantastic Mr Fox; sadly, family commitments meant that Ellie had to miss the evening championship.
“The course was full of everything you could imagine, including a huge bullfinch, walls, rails and technical lines,” said a jubilant Will, who is currently concentrating on teaching and bringing on youngsters. “My horses hunt throughout the winter so it wasn’t a problem for Scully.”
Fittingly, Scully’s feat was further rewarded when he went on to nail the pair’s first supreme worker of the year title (formerly the Noble Bing). The duo also gained individual team victory in the home international competition here, and are through to HOYS in both intermediate and horse workers, bidding for their first HOYS win.
Reserve went to the 153cm victors, Alice Cowie and her 10-year-old TGF Lucy, who just had an unlucky pole in an otherwise excellent round.
“She’s such an honest mare who always tries her hardest,” said HOYS-qualified Alice, 17. “The bigger the course, the better for her.”
The Ghita Jago memorial supreme show pony title is another highly valued award at the BSPS Summer Championships and this year, went to “borrowed” jockey Cate Kerr on the Team Ahern-produced novice champion, Stoneleigh Showtime. Amazingly, this was only the second show – and sole class here – for Helen Davies’ exciting four-year-old 128cm, novice champion on her debut at the recent UK Nationals.
This success did follow Ahern form, though, as the team lifted the supreme title here last year with another novice, Colbeach Caprice, and fielded four ponies to contest various supremes this time. This included two in the overall novice finale where, having qualified both, Arabella Pickles remained aboard the Heritage mini champion, Springwater Tactician, while stand-in jockey Beatrice Taverner-Burns claimed the title on the hunter pony lead-rein victor, Rosedew After Eight.
Another competition unique to the BSPS is the Blue Riband section, where four judges assess each animal and a “new” fifth judge decides the championship after another individual show from each section winner.
This year’s champions, Harriet Dennison and the Team Helliwell-produced intermediate victor Whalton A Bit Special, delivered in spades, prompting final judge Martin Jones to comment: “This pony had a particularly good walk and a spectacular trot, and the rider produced a very considered show which was balanced and rhythmic throughout, showing lovely soft transitions.”
The reigning Great Yorkshire champion and RIHS runner-up was following in familiar footprints as Harriet is a past winner on the intermediate show hunter Merrycorner Mister Bui – Best of the Best supreme with new jockey Zara Brookes here.
The promising new-season partnership of Ellie Harrington, 13, and the Gill Thompson-produced 148cm Roseberry Final Edition landed a major double, taking the Blue Riband show pony and Champion of Champions titles.
“We only got the pony in May, so we’ve been concentrating on building the partnership,” said Gill. “They are through to HOYS in part-breds and show ponies, though.”
“We haven’t had an easy time”
NATIVE ponies were also out in force at the BSPS Summer Championships, especially in worker ranks. Here, the top spot went to Roberta Watts, 14, with the family’s home-produced Connemara gelding Brock Lodge Ben (Benji). The typey 10-year-old was also placed in plaited 143cm workers here with Roberta’s sister Sienna, 15.
“We bought Benji last year and I spent time getting to know him,” said Roberta, for whom it was a first section supreme here since Joebex Chitty Chitty Bang Bang scored on the lead-rein in 2015.
“We haven’t had an easy time as he hasn’t ever had a child as young as me riding him, and the open mountain and moorland [M&M] tracks were new to us
as a combination. Thankfully, Benji is the most genuine pony and always tries his best, even when I get it a bit wrong!”
The Lancashire-based Leeming family’s star shone brightly throughout the week, but the high point came when Lucinda Leeming, 12, secured the team’s first Pretty Polly overall supreme title. Her ride, the enchanting Heritage ridden champion Thistledown San-Siro, is shared by Lucinda and her younger brother William, and the Welsh section A has his HOYS tickets in junior, first ridden and open ranks.
Another home-producing family had plenty to celebrate, too. Lincoln-based trainee paralegal Olivia Rocks secured her first HOYS ticket with the Pretty Polly intermediate champion Sir Control – an eight-year-old by the great jumping stallion Sir Shutterfly out of a Cruising mare.
“This is Olivia’s first season with him,” said her mother Lynne. “She took over the ride from her sister Phoebe and they got their large hack ticket at Lincoln; until this year Olivia has been the bridesmaid to Phoebe, but now it’s her chance to shine.”
Ever-innovative, the society introduced a new competition here – the Royal Bronze performance to music section, judged by Amanda Birch and Barry Souter. The inaugural champion was Victoria Harker with her 153cm show hunter pony section winner Penwind Charlie.
The exciting four-year-old was bought last year and has been carefully campaigned in novice ranks.
“We think he is very special,” said Victoria, who produces him herself. “He’s so easy to do and is the most down-to-earth four-year-old I’ve ever met. This class is a really good idea and a great way to encourage something new; the crowd seemed to enjoy the performances, too.”
Cracking qualifier debut at BSPS Summer Championships
DOMENICA FITCH made a sensational show ring debut with her coloured pony, The Magpie, to land her first-ever HOYS ticket. Although Pie is no stranger to the spotlight, having won at HOYS in 2018 with Adam Forster, it is very much new territory for Domenica, 24, who returned to the UK from Qatar last March due to the Covid lockdown situation.
“She learnt to ride as a child but wasn’t interested in showing,” said her mother, producer Clare Fitch, who also bagged a HOYS ticket here with the plaited pony Barnaby Rudge. “She really bought Pie for me to show a little and for her to possibly ride whenever she was home in the UK, but his main purpose was just to hack out.
“Then when she came back here, she became hooked on dressage with him and they competed at the regionals a few weeks ago. After finishing in the top 10 there, she decided to just try one show to see if she enjoyed it – this result was a dream come true.”
“They’ve both come on so much”
HARRY JUDGE, six, followed in family footsteps when landing his first HOYS ticket, scoring with the Christina Gillett/Kevin Cousins-produced five-year-old lead-rein hunter pony, Thistledown Snowfall.
Not only is Harry’s mother Clare a successful HOYS competitor, but father Philip – a former Olympia winner as a child – rode at Wembley on 128cm show ponies.
“Harry only started properly riding in the spring on an amazing home pony and has spent all summer having fun at Pony Club,” said Clare. “His first-ever ring ride was this week and it was just the pony’s fourth show. They have both come on so much in just a few days.”
Harry’s sister Sophie flew the family flag too, when Sue Galloway’s Prime Suspect secured the intermediate title and then lifted the coveted Ronnie Marmont intermediate supreme at his first “proper” show.
“I’ve been riding him at home for his owner for about six years, and until now we’ve just been slowly bringing him on,” said Sophie, who is helped by her mother Julie, yet another successful competitor. “He hunts with the Staffordshire Moorlands and does local dressage competitions with his owner. This was his first-ever evening performance, so I couldn’t be more thrilled.”
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