Janay Atherden and the Leeman family have paid tribute to their coloured show cob Randalstown Top Notch (Notty), who was recently put down aged 13.
The gelding was bought by the Leemans at the end of 2019. He gave Janay a dream run of results as both a heavyweight and open coloured contender. His last appearance in the ring was at the 2021 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) where he stood third in the heavyweight cob of the year final.
When owned by Sue and Grahame Phillips, Notty was piloted on several occasions by physiotherapist Emily Proud. The pair won the overall cob supreme at Hickstead in 2018 and the following year they scored the amateur cob championship at the Royal Windsor and were also victorious in amateur ranks at the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS).
In 2019, Notty also won the LeMieux La Liga award for the most consistent heavyweight show cob in HOYS qualifiers.
Janay and her husband Frazer Atherden had judged Notty in the ring and asked his then owner Sue if he was for sale. Although he was not available at the time, Sue promised they would have first refusal when the time came.
Notty’s consistency continued with Janay in the saddle, with the pair achieving wins at the Royal Windsor and the the Great Yorkshire, among others. They were also overall cob champions at both the Hickstead Derby meeting and the British Show Horse Association (BSHA) national championships.
“Notty arrived with us just before lockdown,” said Janay. “My best memory with him was winning Windsor. It had always been a dream of mine to ride in the Castle Arena and he did that for me.
“To ride, he was phenomenal — it was like sitting on air. He was the most genuine soul, but he had a cheeky side. I could always rely on him as he’d never let me down.”
During lockdown 2020 Notty was diagnosed with cancer after a small lump was found on his neck. He was pronounced cancer-free in 2021, but after HOYS later in the year he fell ill and was put down in February 2022 after all treatment options had been exhausted.
In a recent interview with H&H, Janay’s mother, Lisha Leeman, said: “Five days after HOYS, he fell drastically ill. We tried every drug you can think of, every biopsy, every scan, everything you can possibly think of. There was nothing they could have done. Janay absolutely adored Notty and he adored her, too.”
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