Lockdown purchase Starry Night sparkles to win at NCPA Staffordshire Winter Festival

  • A HUSBAND and wife team scored the overall in-hand championship at Northern Counties Pony Association (NCPA) Staffordshire Winter Festival, held at Lodge Farm EC, Staffs, with a promising two-year-old filly.

    Peter and Hazel Cornes’ roan Welsh section B Thistledown Starry Night (Annie) was purchased in 2020 during the pandemic. By Thistledown Arctic-Air out of Thistledown Starry Lustre, Annie was one of three ponies sourced by Peter and Hazel from the Thistledown Stud.

    “I sought out Annie because of her bloodlines,” said Hazel, who has been breeding ponies for some 30 years. “She has a lovely temperament, fabulous movement and plenty of sparkle.”

    During 2021, Annie was produced by Helen Gorton and Graham Roberts of the Lynard Stud.

    “Peter was waiting for a hip operation and we wanted Annie to get some education as she has an outgoing personality,” added Hazel, who watched Annie trot to third place in her yearling class at the Great Yorkshire Show. “Today was a big occasion for us as it was Annie’s first time indoors and Peter’s first time running her out; he was testing out his new hip!”

    Thorneyside The Bizzness at NCPA Staffordshire Winter Festival

    Thorneyside The Bizzness took the overall ridden championship under Danielle Garner

    In ridden ranks at the NCPA Staffordshire Winter Festival, Danielle Garner piloted Leisa Woodward’s 12-year-old Welsh section D gelding Thorneyside The Bizzness to the overall ridden championship.

    Prior to commencing his showing career, “Buzz” contended dressage with Leisa, and in 2021 he was a Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) junior ridden finalist with Kaitlyn Fairhurst. Buzz and Danielle have been together for a short four weeks.

    “He’s mainly been Leisa’s dressage diva,” said Danielle. “We’ll aim to run him in HOYS open qualifiers. He’s a lovely cob and I know his breeders think very highly of him, too.”

    Danielle was also responsible for the winning novice small breeds mount, Sandy Anderson’s Welsh section A stallion Thistledown Excalibur, who was ridden by Rebecca Penny. The five-year-old, who will eventually return to Thistledown to stand at stud, was backed by Sharn Linney last year.

    “He’s a real character; he’s only 12hh but he thinks he’s 16hh,” said Danielle.

    The new partnership of 16-year-old Oliva Bennett and Dales mare Griseburn Faye made a winning debut at NCPA Staffordshire Winter Festival, also scoring a section championship and reserve. Olivia and her mother Sarah have 11-year-old Faye on loan from Gill Simpson. She joined them after HOYS in October.

    “She’s fabulous,” said Sarah. “Oliva has been hacking her all winter and they’ve enjoyed some outings at Somerford Park.”

    Kistie Wright’s home-bred New Forest mare Measevallley Make A Wish (Pip) made her affiliated debut. The five-year-old by Brock Captain Jack out of Pigbush Jade finished top of the National Pony Society novice championship. Pip is Kirstie’s first home-bred New Forest.

    “She was backed lightly as a three-year-old and then did nothing else until late spring last year,” said Kirstie of Pip, who was foal champion at Ashbourne when shown at the foot of her dam.

    “We’ve mainly hacked out, played over a few poles and supported local riding club shows. She’s taken a while to mature and in the future I hope she’ll be a worker before running as a broodmare. This year, we’ll take it slowly, but possibly aim for the NPS [National Pony Society] Picton final and also contend some one-day events.”

    The mini tricolour went to seven-year-old Harrison Bate riding his mother Jodie Bate’s Welsh section A Thistledown Pear Drop (Pedro), also seven.

    “Pedro is our first pony,” said Jodie, who bought the mannerly grey gelding 14 months ago. “Harrison had never ridden before we got him. He has such a natural way of riding and is self taught with some guidance from me.”

    Pedro qualified for the Royal International Pretty Polly Heritage lead-rein final within six months of joining the Bate family.

    “We adore him and he’s very much part of our family,” added Jodie.

    • This report can also be read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 3 March

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