While many show riders try for years to bag their first Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) tickets, one first ridden jockey, who has just turned five, has already managed to book his place on the Hickstead train.
Kobi Watt, who turned five in March, rode the 18-year-old show pony Poweys Baby Doll, or Dinky as she is known at home, to win his first ridden class at the BSPS Area 13B, subsequently taking his first ticket to the RIHS.
Despite having a strong CV that boasts show ring wins from over a decade ago, Dinky now has a weekday role in a riding school, which is where Kobi became acquainted with the pint-sized superstar.
“Last year, I took Kobi to my friend’s (Francesca Way) riding school to get him going off the lead rein,” said Kobi’s mother, Bobbie, who hails from a showjumping background.
“He is just so confident that Francesca suggested we borrow Dinky to do some first ridden with. Now she works in the riding school during the week and comes to us for shows.”
Their qualifying story didn’t come without a few setbacks, as the previous day at Devon county, Kobi and Dinky suffered a mishap when a working hunter galloped past the pair during their individual show, causing the young jockey to fall from the saddle.
“We nearly didn’t go to BSPS on the Sunday as I was losing the will to live,” Bobbie said. “But Kobi just got up and got on with the job. He was ecstatic when he qualified the following day. I think he must be one of the youngest first ridden riders to qualify.
“He treasures Dinky. Even though she can be cheeky, she is just a fantastic little mare.”
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This season Kobi will also pilot the lead rein show hunter Cosford Madame Mouse who is to be based with Brett McKinnon’s team, and at the end of the year he will be making his debut on a novice mountain and moorland pony.
“We are also hoping to get him in some cradle stakes classes on a little worker we have. I never thought I’d have a boy who would be so keen,” added Bobbie.
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This week’s pony special, out 7 June, features Britain’s naughtiest ponies and how to find the dream smaller equine. We also look at the pros and cons of equine treadmills, talk to showing producer Aimee Devane and have reports from the H&H Festival of Eventing, Tattersalls Horse Trials, racing at Epsom and much more.