‘That was one of the strongest championships I’ve ridden in’: former novice winner dominates as an open at Windsor

  • Riding horses arguably provided the strongest championship of the week at Royal Windsor, as the 2019 novice winner and overall Royal Windsor riding horse championship victor returned as an open ride to reclaim the crown.

    The star in question was Issy and Guy Mears’ superb nine-year-old small campaigner Times Square III (Monkey). His rider and producer, Danielle Heath, said the championship was “anyones to have” as each of the winners was of exceptional quality:

    “That was one of the strongest championships I’ve ever ridden in at Windsor,” she said. “The novice (King Of Clubs, Jayne Ross) was a beautiful, big-moving horse, and the large riding horse (Kellythorpes Obsession, Frazer Atherden) was the champion at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) last year. Going in there it could have been anyones, so I rode it like I stole it.”

    Monkey and Danielle landed the Royal Windsor riding horse championship here in 2019 when the gelding was a novice, but they didn’t compete in 2021 as Danielle was struck down with pneumonia just before the show.

    “I missed my first ever Windsor last year; I’d been coming here since I was nine,” she continued. “We knew we had the horse power, but this year was all about coming and enjoying it.”

    Monkey will now gear up for his first HOYS qualifier next week before the Royal International final in July.

    Danielle said Monkey is an apt stable name for the horse:

    “He’s Monkey for a reason. He’s cheeky, and if he could hang from trees and eat bananas he would. You have to kid him sometimes, but when he gets into the ring he owns it.

    “Windsor has always been a lucky show for me. I lost my mum when I was 21 and this was always one of her favourite shows, so it has a special place in my heart. It’s the only one my dad still comes to, too.”

    Miranda Wallace’s second placed large riding horse, seven-year-old mare Assagart Vision, ridden by Vicky Smith, put on an exemplary performance to be reserve.

    Katie Duxbury assessed ride alongside Gregory Goss who judged the conformation section:

    “We had an idea in our heads before the championship, but things changed as they often do in the Castle Arena. Some of the horses were completely different animals on the grass ring in the morning compared to how they were in the main ring. Some of them shone, particularly the second placed large. The champion and reserve gave the best gallops of the championship. The rides have been tremendous today; I feel like a very lucky girl to have ridden some of those animals.”

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