‘It’s a real family effort’: Amateur team score working hunter pony victory

  • The LG Show Team British Show Pony Society working hunter pony championship at the 2021 Royal International Horse Show saw winning 133cm, 143cm and 153cm combinations contend for the final sash.

    Kevin Millman’s 12-fence course tested stamina and fitness, and made full use of the grassy space belonging to the Science Supplements Ring 5. Only a couple of clear rounds were achieved in each class. Anthony Evans was assessing jump:

    “It was a wonderful, flowing course and there was a consistent number of clears and rolled poles in each of the classes,” said Anthony. “No single fence caused more problems than another. Ponies seemed to be enjoying themselves, too. Some of the jockeys will have qualified on surfaces so this would have been a very different type of jumping experience for them.”

    The overall victor — the final champion of day two — was Mollie Jeffrey and her father Wayne Jeffrey’s flying grey Connemara Woodfield Jovial Joker (Jack). The nine-year-old has been a prolific winner for the Cumbria-based family as both a plaited and mountain and moorland (M&M) working hunter pony, winning at HOYS as the latter type in 2019. The Jeffrey’s bought Jack as a novice four-year-old after he was found in Ireland by Jayne Pimbley.

    What makes the duo’s achievements even more impressive is the fact that they do everything from home and are trained by Wayne:

    “Jack had done nothing before we got him,” explained electrical technician Wayne, who has watched Jack and Mollie win at both Royal Cheshire County and the Royal Highland already this season. “He had one novice season in 2019, and he won HOYS which was a dream come true. We’re total amateurs really and we just do what we can on a budget. I used to do workers when I was younger but gave up when I was 15 to pursue a career in football, and since we had Mollie all I wanted was for her to be better than me; she’s so fantastic, especially considering she doesn’t have lessons. It’s a real family effort.”

    “Mollie is so determined; if something isn’t right she won’t stop until it’s right. And riding is what she does best. She deserves all the credit.”

    Mollie said that Jack enjoys taking on the bigger, longer tracks:

    “He gets into his stride,” she said. “We didn’t overdo the working in today due to the heat and as it was a long course he needed his energy. But he gave me his all and I couldn’t have asked anymore from him. We’ll definitely be having a big party tonight.”

    Alice Cowie rode Janet Cowie’s 10-year-old mare TGF Lucy into reserve after capturing the 153cm class. Winning 122cm combination was Beatrice Bailye-Hawkins and 14-year-old Skewbald mare Precious Gem.

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