‘She gave me opportunities far beyond what I thought possible’: farewell to pony who put rider on the map

  • The successful and much loved show hunter pony and small hunter Withymoor Damsel (Daphne) has died aged 10 owing to illness.

    The prolific mare out of Moccachino Minx by Kings Compose was home-produced by Eve Duggan for the duration of her career.

    She was bought by Eve’s mother, Monique Drabble, as an unbroken three-year-old, having enjoyed success in hand with Jamie Frost.

    “I was only 12 when we went to view her,” said Eve, who competed Daphne as a 15hh hunter pony. “It wasn’t her looks or show ring potential that we fell in love with but her soft, loving personality that drew us to her.

    “I remember saying to my mum that I wanted to buy her because she gave me a cuddle. We backed her and then initially campaigned her as a novice.”

    Daphne stepped up in 2018, standing home-produced champion at the British Show Pony Society (BSPS) summer championships, qualifying for Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) and clinching fifth in the Pretty Polly final at the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS).

    “The following year she was champion restricted at the BSPS championships and was also second in the open 15hh hunter pony class at the RIHS,” added Eve. “In 2021 she booked her third HOYS ticket and won many overall championships.”

    During 2021, Daphne successfully turned her hoof to small hunter ranks with Leon King, winning Royal Windsor and qualifying for both HOYS and the RIHS, placing sixth at the latter final.

    “Daphne was amazing in the show ring and she thoroughly loved her job. The bigger the audience, the better she went. She taught me so much and gave me opportunities far beyond what I thought possible,” Eve said.

    “She only did small hunter classes this year and watching her win Windsor with Leon will for ever be one of the proudest moments of my life.

    “Daphne had lived at home with us for the past seven years and we had no intention of ever selling her. We are heartbroken that this day had to come so soon. She is buried in her favourite part of the big field, where the sun shines in the day and the moon watches over at night.

    “Daphne will always be my pony of a lifetime. We have been on an incredible journey with her. I owe huge thanks to Leon and my trainer Katy Carter for their help and encouragement along the way, and the biggest thank you has to go to my mum; for a long time it was just me, Mum and Daphne, and Mum always believed we would go all the way.”

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