Matthews Girl and Flinor Songbird, two of the most successful 128cm showjumping ponies of all time, have been put down at the age of 24 and 26.
The two ponies had been kept together since they were ridden by Millie Allen in the late 00s, passing on to the Charles family, where they scored a catalogue of successes partnered by siblings Harry, Scarlett and Sienna.
Matthews Girl, known as “Cracker”, had a particularly brilliant run of success, winning the Olympia 128cm title in 2011 with Harry, the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) 128cm championship with Scarlett in 2012; while Sienna was first on “Cracker” and second on “Bambi” (pictured, above) at HOYS in 2013, following up with an outright victory on Bambi in the same class in 2013.
They were passed on to Alena Hughes, who qualified Cracker for the major championships when she was eight. The bay mare, who came from Ireland, officially retired last year, while “Bambi” carried on competing at a low level until recently.
Alena’s mother Victoria said her daughter’s early success had shown “just how special” the ponies were.
“She got them straight after HOYS (in 2013) and then in January she did the first Royal International qualifier with Matthews Girl and qualified. She took her to HOYS, Hickstead, Olympia and Liverpool,” she said. “She would have won HOYS again with her if Alena had remembered to jump last fence in the jump-off, she missed it and had to circle.
“I don’t think I’ll ever find anything to their standard again in both how they jumped and how they were in the stable,” she added. “Their personalities matched their performance, they were legends.
“Somewhere there is a video of Cracker in Ireland jumping 1.70m.”
Victoria said that the ponies had stayed together in their retirement but old age had caught up with them.
“When they retired, we decided they needed to stay together — they were a special pair. They had to go in the field together or one would jump out looking for the other one. They were two divas, they’d pick on each other but they loved each other at the same time,” she said.
“Cracker had started to go downhill quite rapidly and I spoke to Peter Charles and I said ‘what do you think?’ and he said they both need to go together — the one that would left would’ve just pined otherwise, and why upset them when they have both been such amazing ponies.”
‘Even before I had her, I thought ‘that’s the best 12.2hh I have ever seen’’
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Sienna Charles also paid tribute to the pair, saying they were both “one in a million”.
“They brought so much success and happiness to my family and I. There wasn’t one championship or class they didn’t win, there will never ever be any ponies like them again,” she said.
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