The 2017 Horse & Hound outstanding mare award has been won by the Hawtins Stud’s foundation broodmare World’s Finest (by Weltmeyer).
The stud’s owner Judith Davis collected the prize at the annual British Equestrian Federation’s Breeders’ Awards Dinner in London on Saturday night (14 January).
Although she’d been tipped off that her mare had won, Judith had not told her husband or the stud’s rider, Briony Goodwin.
“They were so excited and my husband kept saying things like, ‘Wouldn’t it be brilliant if she won?’ and I’d reply, ‘Oh look at the weather!’ And in the back of my mind for some reason I kept thinking that the powers that be might have changed their minds.”
The prize was presented by H&H’s Alice Collins and Paul Ward and, as they listed the mare’s accolades from the stage, Judith’s table realised that World’s Finest (Wolfie) had indeed won.
“She’s 23 this year,” said Judith. “I love my mares so much. Everyone talks about stallions all the time, but the mare is such an important part.”
World’s Finest’s legacy is truly impressive. In 2016 she had seven descendants at the British Dressage national championships, from young horses up to small tour. Her granddaughter Hawtins San Floriana stood four-year-old supreme champion, while her grandson Hawtins Delicato won the prix st georges class with over 75% under Charlotte Dujardin.
Four of Wolfie’s daughters have been retained by the stud and have already been awarded elite status. Her youngest direct offspring — and her final foal as she is now retired from breeding — is a two-year-old mare called Hawtins Floresta by the champion Fürstenball son Follow Me, whom Judith says is “looking every inch like another future champion”.
“She has won the mare family award at the British Hanoverian show twice, once in 2009 and, most recently, in 2016.
“Me and her were the veterans of the show, running around together,” beamed Judith. “She’s a lovely ‘person’ and temperament is so important; there’s no point in having something that moves if it doesn’t do the job. Her offspring are true competition horses, ones that can do the job quite easily and feel nice to ride.
“As breeders, we’re the keepers of the marelines, with responsibility to move them forward. If you make bad decisions then you’re not progressing the line and building it for the future.”
World’s Finest is a true pro when it comes to showing off her foals.
“In the winter she gets a proper winter coat and looks like a fluffy pony,” explained Judith. “But as soon as she has a foal, she turns into a supermodel and loses her coat straight away; she’s like one of those celebrities who have c-sections. It’s really an unbelievable transformation.”
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To underscore the quality and consistency of World’s Finest’s progeny, two direct offspring and one grandson were guinea pigs in the inaugural British Dressage young horse forum at Matt Hicks’ Hampshire base, Hurstbourne EC, on Monday (16 January).
“Her offspring have proved her worth and 2016 has definitely been her year. Some extra carrots are definitely headed her way,” concluded Judith.