‘I was so lucky to have him in my life’: young rider’s heartbreak as pony of a lifetime dies

  • The Till family’s 2019 Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) supreme champion Drakemyre Puttin On The Ritz (Alfie) — one of the most prolific show ponies of the present day — has died from colitis aged eight.

    The 138cm and part-bred Arab contender won the RIHS and Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) in both classes with his long-term partner India Till. The duo were also champions on their debut outing of the 2021 season at the beginning of May.

    “He was looking a million dollars,” said his owner, India’s mother Henrietta Till. “The vets did all they could and it all happened so quickly; we are absolutely devastated.”

    India first rode Alfie as a four-year-old novice at the British Show Pony Society championships, where she picked up a chance ride in a championship. Henrietta then bought the Turberry Top Cat gelding for India to move into 138cm classes.

    Alfie first won HOYS in 2018, when he took the children’s riding pony of the year accolade and the following year at the RIHS he took both part-bred and show pony championships before landing the supreme pony sash. He completed his 2019 tally — which included overall championships at North of England, Great Yorkshire and Three Counties — with the part-bred of the year tri-colour at the NEC. 

    “He had the kindest attitude and the biggest heart,” said India. “His character was something else; some days I would ride him and he’d have a little joke with me, and other days he’d be foot-perfect. But every time I rode him I just couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have him in my life.”

    “His presence was something else,” added Henrietta. “The way he stood over the ground, even in the stable, was magnificent. We’ll miss seeing his pretty head looking out over the stable door.

    Continues below…

    “Watching India and Alfie win the 2019 RIHS supreme was so emotional; I think I cried the whole time they were in the ring. India had continued to form such a bond with Alfie. At their final show together she wanted to blow everyone out of the water with her individual show and she really went for it; it was poetry in motion. We thought so much of him and had such big plans for him. 

    “I take solace in the fact that he had a wonderful life; he was able to be a real pony and enjoyed hacking, riding on the gallops and cantering around open fields. In the ring he always had his ears on and was the ultimate showman; his movement and power was just spectacular. His personality always shone through and he was such a happy pony. There will never be another like him.”

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