‘He’s finally had his day’: 17-year-old legend of a pony is a HOYS winner on his last appearance

  • After winning the coveted BSPS Gold Cup sports pony competition last month, Ellie Callwood and Tracey and Vicki Brooks’ Ennis Boy (Russell) jumped another cracking clear and triumphed in the National Pony Society/Mole Valley Farmers HOYS 153cm working hunter pony of the year championship at the 2022 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS). 

    It was a dream result for his connections, as the 17-year-old gelding, a former Royal Windsor winner and Dublin champion, has been the bridesmaid at both HOYS and the Royal International (RIHS) during his career.

    “I’m so glad that he’s finally had his day,” said Ellie, who first sat on Russell aged 12 and now competes him as a worker while also taking him hunting, team-chasing and show jumping. “He’s been knocking on the door for years now. I think this will be his last HOYS; we said that if he does alright today we’d bow out in style, and he’s done more than alright. He’s going team chasing next week and I’ll hunt him throughout the season.”

    Russell made light of the well-dressed, up-to-height fences and limited amount of space on offer in the TopSpec arena.

    “It was tight in there but as soon as I jumped number nine I knew I’d be OK,” said Ellie, for whom this was a first HOYS win. “The wall was the last effort and Russell’s favourite jumps are the hunt-style fences. He was so cool and we’ve waited a long time for this win.”

    Ellie, who works at a racing yard in Warwickshire, said HOYS preparation has been minimal, but that Russell thrives on fewer outings:

    “I’ve done very little,” she said. “My mum Jo Callwood has had Russell at home with her in Cheshire and she’s met me a couple of times to go show jumping, but Russell is always better if he does less. He’s done a few fun rides, too, to keep him sweet and enjoying life. He loves his job and that’s how we’ve wanted to keep it.

    “No matter where he is he rises to the occasion. He’s done four working hunter shows this season and he’s not been out of the top three.”

    Alice Cowie and Janet Cowie’s 12-year-old mare TGF Lucy took second in the HOYS 153cm working hunter pony of the year championship.

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