Arguably the most anticipated classes of the 2021 Royal International Horse Show, The Saracen Horse Feeds hunter championships, made for sensational viewing. The usual format was adhered to with Michael Maryan assessing conformation throughout and the ride judges changing after each weight class. The championship, where all the ride judges took each of the class winners for a spin around the Longines International Arena, was equally spectacular, with all six contenders holding their own.
For the second time in a row, showing hero Jayne Ross had the edge and was called forward to take the sash, and ultimately a spot in Sunday’s Winston Churchill supreme. This time, she was riding Kay Cambell’s Verdi nine-year-old Temple Ogue, who had taken the bridesmaid position here in the same championship in 2019. The elegant bay lightweight gelding gleamed under the sun and gave a champion-worthy gallop for Jayne, who had also qualified last year’s supreme hunter, Rose Bailey’s Twinshock Warrior for the championship after he’d placed second in the heavyweight division.
“He (Temple Ogue) got his just rewards today,” said Jayne. “He went beautifully both in the class and in the championship, and he really deserved his moment today. He’s got such an engine, but he’s mannerly with it.”
When asked what makes the prolific horse so special, Jayne said above everything else it’s his temperament which makes him so perfect for the job:
“His personality makes him,” said Jayne, who also noted that his owner, Kay, had just come out of hospital after undergoing major back surgery and wasn’t able to attend the show. “She’s been watching on live stream so she’ll be super excited.”
Particular note had to be given to Wayne Thorneycroft who cut through the usual names to achieve his first RIHS hunter win aboard Tanya Ewan’s Crosstown Dancer middleweight Doolin Dancer, who stood section reserve. The 12-year-old was fresh from winning on Great Yorkshire turf just a week before.
“To be pulled top and stay at Hickstead is overwhelming,” said Wayne, who has enjoyed previous RIHS victories on coloureds in the past. “This horse has really come into his own, and to win the hunters here is a dream come true.”
Conformation judge Michael Maryan said: “The champion had the best walk of the day. He has a beautiful set on front, great limbs and clean legs. He went extremely well, too.”
Lightweight judge Lesley-Anne Jones pulled Temple Ogue in top in the morning’s class and he stayed put:
“He was powerful yet balanced, and he was such a mover,” she enthused.
Bumble Thomas officiated the middleweight class: “Our winner was delightful and he gave everyone an incredible ride.”
“Everyone could have stayed on him all day,” added Michael.
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