‘It’s a real family affair’: Home-bred pair head mammoth first ridden class on route to mini M&M supreme

  • Five-year-old home-bred Welsh section A Rowfantina Orlando-Bloom made his mark on the show ring when he secured the Cuddington Stud British Show Pony Society (BSPS) Heritage M&M supreme mini championship on his first appearance at the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS).

    His pilot was nine-year-old James Burchell, who, unlike his pony, is no stranger to Hickstead success; in 2017, he took the overall supreme pony championship with the show pony lead rein Seamoor Lady Derby, led by his dad, Oliver Burchell.

    Oliver’s mum, Mandy Burchell-Small bred the Broekland Allesandro-sired gelding Orlando-Bloom who is out of Rowfantina Old Times and was there to watch her grandson triumph.

    “Orlando Bloom only did a handful of shows last year,” said Oliver. “Hickstead is a good venue for him as he qualified for Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) here at the Hickstead Derby a few weeks ago. It’s a proper family affair; Mum bred him, myself and my wife, Jo, produce him and then James rides him.”

    Further deepening the family connection, Orlando Bloom’s dam is a pony Oliver’s grandma bred, and Oliver’s brother also won at HOYS on his granddam.

    “He’s a very honest first ridden,” added Oliver. “For a young pony he’s got a sensible head and importantly the pair of them get on. Covid gave them the time they needed to establish a partnership without the pressure of going into the ring. He’s only young so we want to give him the best introduction possible so we won’t over do it. James loves showing, though he has ambitions to be a jockey. At the moment he’s learning his trade doing this.”

    James nearly didn’t make it into the ring as the young jockey suffered from some terrible sunburn over the weekend:

    “He’s been really sore up until this morning so it was touch and go as to whether he’d make it into the ring,” said Oliver.

    Reserve went to Sharn Linney leading Penny Richardson and ultimate lead rein contender Thistledown Van-Der-Vaart. Now 13, the stunning little grey and his immaculate team put on a typically flawless display on route to the lead rein victory.

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