‘He was a character and I loved him’: former champion put down aged 27

  • The most successful dun show pony of all time has been put to sleep at home at the age of 27.

    Part-bred Arab Deaconwood Goldprint was produced by the Hollings family throughout his ridden career, and was given to Penny Hollings last January following the death of his owner June Horsfall.

    In a stellar career, the eye-catching 138cm took the the championship at the Royal International Horse Show in 1999 and 2002 and was twice victorious at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) in 1998 and 2000.

    “We have had a lot of lovely ponies to produce and I shouldn’t really say I have a favourite, but he was my favourite,” said H&H columnist Stuart Hollings. “He was a lovely pony who really stood out in a crowd because he was a very elegant dun, full of presence and a big mover.

    “Mrs Horsfall left me a brilliant Philippa Porley painting of him on his lap of honour in the Hickstead main ring which proudly hangs in my lounge.”

    The gelding was bred by Clare Dew and was by Cusop Fingerprint out of Cratfield Fairy Gold — a 148cm HOYS winner in her own right in 1987.

    Old age had started to catch up with “Tom”, Stuart said.

    “They told me they might be putting him down on Thursday (March 8), so I went to see him on Wednesday night and said goodbye with a couple of apples,” he said.

    “He was a character and I loved him. We took him through all the stages from winning the BSPS Championships as a novice, through to restricted, open, and taking some big championships.

    “We always thought he could have taken the championship at HOYS but he never won it — we thought when he got into the main arena at Wembley he got a bit lost as he was almost same colour as the surface!”

    Tom was his dam’s first offspring, and Stuart recalled seeing him as a foal at foot with his mother at Rotherwood Stud.

    “I never imagined we’d end up being involved with him,” he said. “We also produced his half sister Crafton Touch Of Gold who was also a dual winner at HOYS and the RIHS. The family was successful — I remember seeing his granddam Tanner Arielle winning as a broodmare at the East Anglian shows and she was also a very high-quality mare.”

    Following his retirement, Tom competed successfully in a handful of local veteran classes with Penny but mostly “lived like a king” at the Holling’s base at Blue Slate.

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