The circuit’s most consistent Connemara wins battle to reclaim his Windsor crown

  • A field of 12 beautiful native ponies vied for the coveted British Show Pony Society (BSPS) 2024 Royal Windsor ridden M&M championship on the penultimate day of Royal Windsor Horse Show.

    Making history as he came out on top of his class for the third consecutive year and the championship for the second year on the trot was Amanda Sharman’s immaculate Connemara stallion Castle Kestrel, piloted — as always — by his long-term producer Lucy Glover.

    The nine-year-old is out of Castle Melody by Glencarrig Knight, the same stallion responsible for yesterday’s reserve M&M in-hand supreme champion, Cloverhill Magic.

    Kestrel is no stranger to the spotlight, having reigned in this championship at Windsor last term.

    While the championship was due to be held in the Castle Arena for a second year, a last-minute schedule change meant competitors returned to the grass surface of the Copper Horse Arena where they had competed before judges Jayne Brace (ride) and Stuart Hollings (conformation) earlier in the day.

    Alongside The Baker Family trophy, Kestrel took home a ticket to the BSPS supreme M&M final held at London International (LIHS) in December, a championship he won back in 2022.

    Amanda bought Kestrel, also a Horse of the Year Show winner, as a yearling from PJ Watson. He has been with Lucy since he was a three-year-old.

    “He went even better and he really upped his game in the championship,” said Stuart. “I would have loved to have had a ride on him.”

    Reserve in the 2024 Royal Windsor ridden M&M championship, and also qualifying to see Santa, was Sarah Parker riding Sarah Weston’s powerful Welsh section D Llynhelwyg Mistar Jones, an eight-year-old by Gobell Telynor who was recently champion at the NPS Spring Festival where he booked a return visit to HOYS.

    The stallion stood third at LIHS last season with Tayla Lewis in the saddle as usual rider Sarah was on board eventual champion, Nipna Midnight Rambler.

    “We went into the championship with a very open mind, though it was definitely between the Welsh cob and the Connemara in the end after the go-round,” added Stuart. “Though, we also liked the Welsh section B (Cadlanvalley Masterclass), the Welsh section C (Gems Malt Whiskey) and the Dales (Nipna Mighty Oak). The gallop played a big part; some really went for it, and others didn’t as much.”

    During the morning’s classes, some competitors found the conditions ‘challenging’, as Jayne, who asked riders to perform their own show, explained: “There was so much rain yesterday that the corners and the sides of the ring were very muddy; some ponies were able to handle the deep going, others struggled.”

    Stuart added: “I would also advise competitors to watch others during the conformation phase. Unless you’re pulled in first you should know exactly where to stand your pony up for the judge. Some riders came wandering out asking where to set their pony up when they should have been watching those go prior. It’s a ring-craft thing.”

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