‘He just wants to please’: keen performer shines bright en route to Royal Windsor worker title

  • A heavyweight gelding tallied the 2024 Royal Windsor working hunter championship, providing his long-term owner/rider with her first royal title over fences.

    Adele Hanson’s The Top Drawer (Draco), a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse by jumping stallion Tabasco Van Erpekom out of National Hunt mare Indabag, had to initially impress judges Jo Jack (ride) and Anthea Derby (conformation) over the Lisa Kelly-designed worker track, hosted in the Frogmore Arena.

    They then dazzled in the Castle Arena championship to be crowned winners of the overall title ahead of the reserves, Katrina Hirst’s OBOS Quality eight-year-old Drombane Classic, piloted by Eleanor Hirst, champion here 12 months ago with her own heavyweight Noble Gladiator.

    “My co-judge and I unanimously agreed on our champion and reserve,” said Jo. “We watched lovely horses jump over a beautifully built course, which made our job easy and fun. Our champion gave me a super ride and his quality shone through in the main ring.”

    Adele, who has won at Royal Windsor on the flat before, was over the moon to reign on her home-produced gelding Draco.

    “It was an inviting course, but challenging,” Adele said. “The horses had to be controlled, disciplined and fully listening. It was a tight and bendy track, but there were some big open spreads and flimsy uprights to navigate, too.”

    Adele bought Draco when he was a just backed five-year-old from Malcolm and Janet Ambler.

    “He was a bit late getting going so we only brought him out as a six-year-old,” said Adele, champion with Draco during his novice season at the 2019 Great Yorkshire. “We’ve taken it slowly, but we’ve got to HOYS for the past couple of years. He’s not an easy horse; while he tries very hard he can get stressed in certain situations as he just wants to please. He’s bred to event, so he’s a forward ride; he likes to cover a lot of ground, which is why he loved the main ring here; he ate it up.”

    The second placed combinations joining the 2024 Royal Windsor working hunter championship were Rachel Turner riding her own and Rebecca Brierley’s Ernie Big, a 15-year-old by Big Time, and Lily Ennis riding her own and Katie Rigler’s eight-year-old Lagans Lasts Rolo, another gelding by OBOS Quality.

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