‘I always knew he had this in him’: Connemara wins BSPS M&M supreme by 9 marks on London debut

  • A Connemara stallion made a glorious London International Horse Show debut as he lifted the 2022 BSPS Heritage M&M ridden supreme championship on the final day of the show.

    Amanda Sharman’s seven-year-old Castle Kestrel and his producer Lucy Glover led the field of 38 from the off, scoring 46/50, the highest ride marks across the board, from both performance judges Jill Burgess and Fiona Holton. He then similarly delighted conformation judges Joyce Coltart and Ann Bigley to achieve 47/50 and 46/50, respectively, putting him on a winning score of 185/200, nine marks ahead of second place.

    “It was a unanimous decision,” said Jill. “He had an outstanding way of going and he really moved, which is so important for a native; they must move in accordance to their breed type, and he did just that.”

    Joyce was also impressed with what the lightly-shown stallion had to offer.

    “He was of outstanding quality, with good bone and limb, and he screamed Connemara at me,” she noted.

    This was the third time Lucy has ridden in the BSPS Heritage supreme ridden final, and while she has netted best of breed rosettes before, this was the first time she has occupied the top spot.

    Kestrel, who is by Glencarrig Knight out of Castle Melody, was bred by Henry O’Toole. Amanda bought him unseen as a yearling from PJ Watson.

    He joined Lucy’s yard when he was a three-year-old and he goes home to holiday with Amanda at the end of the show season. He qualified for London at the BSPS Heritage championships in October and other results added to his CV this term include wins at Royal Windsor and Lincolnshire Show, and a top seven finish at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).

    “He’s so kind and easy to do, though he is a vocal pony who likes to chat,” said Lucy. “We’ve taken our time with him; this is only his second open season.”

    Lucy and Kestrel were first of the Connemaras to perform.

    “I had watched a couple of sections before me and I just decided to go for it in the end,” said Lucy. “His trot is beautiful so I tried to show that off as much as I could.

    “This is one I’ve always wanted to win, though it’s so hard to qualify so to just get here is amazing.”

    Amanda was ringside to watch the triumph.

    “This is my first time owning a London-qualified pony,” she said. “I always knew he had something like this in him. He’s a superstar.”

    It was a day for the greys as finishing reserve in the 2022 BSPS Heritage M&M ridden supreme on a final total of 176/200 was 18-year-old Victoria Harker riding her mother Jenny Harker’s Welsh section A stallion Dukeshill Pearly Spencer. The Dukeshill Magnum eight-year-old qualified for London last season and he booked a return pass at the BSPS Heritage championship show.

    “Every time he goes into the ring he gives me 100%,” said an emotional Victoria, who has loaned “Dennis” since he was a three-year-old from his breeders Jo and Kathy Sheil, but revealed that her mum Jenny had recently purchased him and gifted him to her as an early Christmas present. “I have a ‘Dennis show’ which I ride when I can; it’s technical and includes a canter on the straight, a serpentine and a walk to canter, which he is the master of.”

    Dennis won the Royal Welsh in-hand as a yearling and a two-year-old. He has been one of the most consistent breed representatives over the past couple of seasons under Victoria.

    “He thinks he’s 17.2hh despite being just 11.2hh,” said Victoria, who has ridden Dennis to top placings at HOYS and the RIHS during their partnership. “We call him Dennis the Menace at home as he’s a bit of a character.”

    “I never expected to get this far so young,” added Victoria, who is still on a high after her 128cm show pony Ardenhall Blenheim won the show pony championship at HOYS earlier this year.

    In third on 168/200 was the Highland best of breed, Jane McNaught’s Dunedin Mascot, ridden by Katie Common, who were both making their debuts in the final.

    The other results were:

    4, Felicity Thompson’s Salcombe Starehole Bay and Katy Marriott-Payne (Dartmoor) 164/200
    5, Julie Pennell’s Nipna Midnight Rambler and Sarah Parker (Dales) 164/200
    6, Felicity Thompson’s Salcombe Frowder Cove and Alice Tomlinson (Dartmoor) 158/200
    7, Samantha Walker’s Melau Aramis and Lauren Brill (Welsh section B) 158/200
    8, Leisa Woodward’s Hilltop Ned and Rebecca Penny (New Forest) 157/200
    9, Ruth Robert’s Wildhoeve Oki Doki and Clare Fitch (Fell) 156/200
    10, Caitlin Hamilton and her own Nipna Invictus (Dales) 155/200

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