Exmoor takes Olympia crown

  • A five-year-old Exmoor mare made history at Olympia when she became the first of her breed to win the coveted NPS Baileys Horse Feeds Mountain and Moorland supreme ridden title.

    Stowbrook Jenny Wren, a superb example of this rare breed, is in her first season under saddle. In the expert hands of native specialist Katy Marriott-Payne she gave a foot-perfect, charismatic display in the daunting atmosphere of a buzzing arena to score the highest performance mark of the 34-strong final.

    Co-owned by Katy and breeder Margaret Burnett, Jenny Wren began the season contesting mostly novice classes. She went on to stand reserve supreme at East Anglian Natives; reserve in the Garrick Wareing Collins £1,000 ridden M&M championship at North of England; second in the Picton final and working hunter pony championship at NPS, and gained her Olympia ticket at the Exmoor breed show.

    “Six months ago, this pony couldn’t even canter properly,” said an overwhelmed Katy, for whom this was a first Olympia triumph after a career that has brought HOYS and RIHS victories on various different breeds.

    “I’ve always wanted to win this but I never dreamt I’d do it on an Exmoor — I don’t think one has even been placed here before!”

    It was close at the top with Sheila Peet’s super Fell gelding Townend Hamish, beautifully ridden by Amie Houghton, finishing only one mark adrift.

    Richard Telford finished third with Bill Ireland’s home-bred Dales mare, Kilmannan Black Velvet, a full-sister to last year’s champion, Black Pearl, while one of the hot favourites, Vanessa Compton’s former HOYS supreme, Castle Comet, stood fourth.

    • Don’t miss the full report on the NPS Baileys Horse Feeds Mountain and Moorland final in this Thursday’s issue of Horse & Hound (8 January).

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