Legendary show pony and part-bred campaigner Rotherwood Rainmaker (Rupert) celebrated his official retirement from showing in style at an extra-special party on Sunday (27 October), at the Rotherwood Stud where he was born.
The 12-year-old, by Rotherwood Peter Pan out of the Strinesdale Matador/Solway North Wind mare Rotherwood Spring Flower, is now owned by the Till family and is the most prolific winner and consistent campaigner in pony history.
To celebrate Rupert’s career, his breeder Liz Mansfield-Parnell laid on drinks and food including a special cake, and invited past and present connections to toast him, in glorious sunshine, with Welsh Pony and Cob Society (WPCS) gold performance certificates proudly displayed.
Rupert was sold to George and Dianne Brereton as a foal. Producer Katy Carter bought him as a three-year-old and backed him for her daughter, Poppy.
His first appearance in the ring came the following year, when Poppy was just eight, and launched a remarkable nine consecutive seasons in top-level showing.
His potential was evident from the off, standing supreme pony in his debut season at the Royal International (RIHS) and winning at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).
HOYS has proved a happy hunting ground for Rupert, as he has qualified every year since then, going on to win a record seven times in all — including in the 128cm show pony class there last month — scoring in both show pony and part-bred ranks with Poppy and latterly, India Till, 12, who took on the ride three years ago. He was also HOYS reserve champion show pony three times with Poppy.
Hickstead continued to be a successful venue for him too, and he was champion show pony and supreme again there for Poppy, in addition to lifting the part-bred Arab title.
Rupert also made his mark in North of England £1,000 supremes — landing a record seven in total in both show pony and part-bred Arab finals — earning £5,000 with Poppy and £2,000 with India.
Three championships at Royal Windsor head a long list of major victories on the county circuit — including standing supreme show pony twice at the British Show Pony Society summer championships — all combining to take his total winnings to well over £15,000, another record in pony showing. His part-Welsh breeding also qualified him for a WPCS gold performance award.
“He’s never left my yard in nine years but now he’s going back to Cheltenham to have a great life with the Tills’ children,” said Katy. “No pony could deserve it more, but he will leave a huge gap.
“He’s a little pony with the biggest heart — I’ve never had one like him and never will again. He’s never had a sour moment; he just loved his job and is an out-and-out showman.”
“Rupert and I had such a bond, and I will never experience another feeling quite like it,” said Poppy. “He taught me the ups and downs of showing, as well as giving me the greatest highs.
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“Then to have the opportunity to watch his journey with India is something I wouldn’t have missed for the world — she is like my little sister and he’s part of my family.”
The Tills are eagerly awaiting the new chapter. “Rupert really has been a pony of a lifetime for us,” said India’s mother, Henrietta. “India got him when she was eight and he has given us all so many incredible memories which we will treasure for ever.”
“He taught me so much and gave me the confidence to compete in the open classes at HOYS,” added India. “I just wish I hadn’t grown too tall to ride him, as I could have had another year with him, but I’m looking forward to hacking out and helping my brother, Tarquin, learn the ropes from this living legend.”
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