‘I nearly didn’t bring him’: special Dartmoor pony gives rider the first Royal Windsor title of her career

  • Native specialist Katy Marriott-Payne achieved a career first when she claimed the Royal Windsor M&M ridden championship for the very first time, booking her spot in the BSPS Heritage ridden supreme final held in London at the end of the year.

    Her ride was Felicity Thompson’s home-bred Dartmoor stallion Salcombe Starehole Bay (Cecil), an eight-year-old by Shilstone Rocks Snowy Mountain out of Hadia Maroon.

    ‘Special Cecil’, as he’s known at home, catapulted himself into the headlines last year when he was crowned M&M Heritage supreme at the Royal International (RIHS) in July. He concluded his season taking reserve in the BSPS Heritage ridden supreme final down in London.

    “This is the first time I’ve been champion at Windsor,” said an over-joyed Katie. “I nearly didn’t bring Cecil as I thought he possibly needed a couple more outings. I worked him yesterday and he felt great, and his owner was supposed to come and see him but sadly she didn’t make it.”

    This was Cecil’s third outing of the season, and third championship victory. He’s already booked in for the 2022 RIHS to defend his title.

    “He stayed with us after London last year and enjoyed a bit of a holiday,” continued Katy. “Last year was his first open season and he’s honestly getting better and better with time. His temperament is to die for, too. We’ve had to wait a while for him to mature, but Felicity knew he was going to be special from the get go.”

    “As he was champion at Hickstead last year I knew he’d cope with the big occasion here. I’d hope he’d return to London this year but I never believed he’d take the first qualifier of the season.”

    April Gilmartin’s winning Welsh section C Gems Malt Whiskey claimed reserve.

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