‘He’s a big show off’: traditional stallion steps up from second to lift Royal Windsor title

  • A second-placed combination proved you should aways return for the championship as they came to the fore to secure the 2024 Royal Windsor ridden coloured spoils.

    The final field of eight contenders, that included former Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) and Royal International (RIHS) winners, was assessed by judges Polly Coles (ride) and Susan Stockley-Bridges (conformation). After deliberation, Hannah Miller-Burton’s striking traditional pony SD Red Gambler and Kaitlyn Fairhurst were called forwards as their overall victors, much to the delight of the crowds.

    Earlier in the morning, the 11-year-old roan stallion — who Kaitlyn had only sat on four times prior to their run at Windsor — had finished as the runners up in the CHAPS (UK) coloured pony native/cob/traditional class, behind eventual section reserves, Isabella Kirby and her family’s six-year-old home-bred traditional stallion Monivea Black Magic, who currently holds this class title at both HOYS and RIHS finals.

    Kaitlyn, who has the ride on Gambler for the 2024 season while Hannah is pregnant, returned to the main arena championship with few expectations, though she wasn’t one to rest on her laurels. She made full use of Gambler’s powerful paces while maintaining balance and fluidity. They sealed their performance with a captivating gallop worthy of a Windsor overall sash. 

    “We just came for a nice picture,” said an overwhelmed Hannah, who bought Gambler as an unhandled three-year-old and has brought him on herself, riding him at HOYS and the RIHS multiple times during their partnership. “He does absolutely everything; he shows, he jumps, he drives, he hunts and he stands at stud. He does love an atmopshere, too; he’s a big show off.”

    Hannah, who works as a stunt rider, has produced Gambler at home for the duration of his career.

    Gambler was the pony to beat on day one of Royal Windsor; he also finished reserve in the in-hand coloured championship when handled by Philip Ward-Burton, behind John Cutts leading Caroline Hamilton’s plaited stallion Lostock Candyman.

    Gambler has been second at Royal Windsor on previous visits and while he is no stranger to the spotlight, having stood supreme at the CHAPS championships before, the 2024 Royal Windsor ridden coloured championship was his biggest triumph to date.

    “I have cried a lot today, though I’m allowed — I’m pregnant and now my pony has just won Windsor,” Hannah said. “Gambler hasn’t been doing a lot at the moment work wise. Kaitlyn lives far away and as I’m pregnant I’ve not been able to ride him much. Thankfully, Philip was available to ride him on his pre-Windsor outing last week, where he was supreme at CHAPS South East.”

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