Welsh section A ponies dominated in the junior M&M ridden pony of the year championship at the 2021 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS), with two well-mannered and ultra-typey geldings and their young riders taking both spots.
Champion was 11-year-old Lexi Brash piloting her granddad Thomas Brash’s home-produced 12-year-old Wellbank Gabriel (Harry), who had qualified for two finals at this year’s HOYS, including the 122cm M&M working hunter final.
Both Lexi and Harry were making their first appearances at HOYS. They qualified for the junior ridden final at the Royal Highland, which is the Scottish family’s local county show.
“Lexi has focused on workers this year; we only did the juniors as another class to have a go at,” said Lexi’s aunt, Diane Brash, noting that Lexi first rode Harry many years ago on the lead rein.
Lexi’s big sister, Kyra, first rode Harry in the ring and produced him through the ranks. Since he was first acquired with the Brash family eight years ago, the perky Chestnut has qualified for the Royal International as an open, junior, first ridden and lead rein.
He was broken to ride as a four-year-old by Jade Neal.
Until now, HOYS has always eluded Harry:
“When Kyra got too big for him Lexi took the ride,” added Diane. “She first rode him in the ring as a first ridden when she was just four years old; she had to stand in for Kyra who had broken her arm.
“We keep mentioning selling him but this never happens as he keeps reinventing himself.”
In the championship, Lexi really showed off Harry’s ground covering trot and accelerating gallop:
“He’s like a remote controlled toy; he knows his job so well,” said Diane. “He has a nose like a bloodhound for polos, too.”
The family now have to sort various logistics so they can stay down south for Sunday’s pony supreme:
“We also bought him a HOYS rug earlier in the day as we never thought he’d win one!”
Lexi added: “Harry felt amazing. At home, he’ll often just gallop off and he won’t stop until he wants to, but when he’s at a show he knows what to do.”
Lilly Walker and Amilas Clicquot were second and reserve to Lexi and Harry in both the small breeds class and section championship.
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