A superstar 128cm jumping pony who helped launch the sporting careers of some of the UK and Ireland’s top young showjumpers has been retired aged 23.
Pint-sized showjumper Mathews Girl, whose CV boasts numerous wins at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS), Olympia and Pony of the Year Show to name but a few, will enjoy a quieter life.
“Cracker” started her jumping career in Ireland, winning at Dublin Horse Show as an eight-year-old before taking victories in the Irish National Pony Championships and the 128cm grand prix at Cavan.
Her Irish riders included Emily Turkington, Stacey Meegan, Emma Smyth and Emily O’Lone.
Her stellar career on the English jumping circuit took off in 2006 with Millie Allen, who was just seven at the time.
Millie’s father Peter told H&H the pony came as “one of a pair” — the other being the equally talented Flinor Songbird (“Bambi”).
The ponies have been run together from early in their careers and are still inseparable.
“Cracker was a difficult ride at first,” said Peter, adding she would have had enough scope to jump the 14.2hh classes.
“She would buck between her fences — she was a very exuberant ride, a feisty little pony.
“We couldn’t have had a better pair. Millie would not be doing what she is now without [those ponies].
“She always made you smile when you saw her jump.”
It was a condition of sale that the ponies stayed together and the Charles family also enjoyed a string of high-profile victories with the two.
Article continues below…
You might also be interested in:
The dual Olympic gold medallist talks about his
Want to find the secret behind top showjumpers'
Harry, Scarlett and Sienna all enjoyed success with the pair before they were sold to Victoria Hughes for her daughter Alena, in 2014.
Cracker has taken Alena from tiny tots to some of the most iconic shows in the UK calendar, including Olympia, Hickstead and HOYS.
“I bought her from the Charleses, who thought the world of her,” Victoria told H&H.
“Even before I had her, I thought ‘that’s the best 12.2hh I have ever seen’.
“Alena just instantly got on with her — they are amazing together.
“There’s not many ponies you can gel with that quickly and that you know will look after your child.
“[Retiring her] broke Alena’s heart, but it is the right thing to do for the pony.”
Victoria added the pony can be a “diva” and explained that she had to request special permission from HOYS to be allowed to bring Bambi too as a companion one year.
“She [Cracker] is a monkey, she walks out of her stable as if she belongs on Blackpool Pleasure Beach — she is not interested in flatwork, all she wants to do is jump,” she laughed.
Victoria added she plans to retire Bambi at the end of the year and the ponies will not be separated.
A British Showjumping spokesman added: “Mathews Girl really has been a superb pony and she has started off the competitive careers of so many riders who have gone on to win youth medals and have considerable success on the international stage.
“Riders such as Millie Allen, Alex Gill, Harry Charles and his sisters Scarlett and Sienna are just some of the former riders who would have had their first taste of success with her along with Alena Hughes who has been riding her most recently.
“She has most certainly been an incredible pony for the sport and it’s lovely to hear that she has a well-earned retirement ahead of her.”
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday