Welsh stallion, 17, is top worker at Windsor after soaring over ‘tough and challenging’ track

  • A Welsh section D stallion reclaimed Royal Windsor Horse Show glory after winning the M&M working hunter pony championship, a title he last won in 2022. Angela Thomas’ ultra-typey Dycott Welsh King, partnered by Ross Keys, headed the exceeding 143cm worker section before returning to the Frogmore ring to take the championship.

    The 2023 Horse of the Year show (HOYS) winners were on form over Lisa Kelly’s well-designed course.

    “Kelly always builds a testing course and this year was no exception,” said Ross, who has bred a daughter and a granddaughter from the 17-year-old Mitcheltroy Welsh Prince-sired dark bay.

    The 16-year-old, who was bred by Clare Granger and George Mitchell, has also reigned at Hickstead during his career. Angela bought King as a two-year-old and Ross has been riding him since he was a five-year-old.

    Amy Smith and her prolific Connemara Laburnum Richard (Pedro), also a 17-year-old, stood reserve champions, having been second to Ross and Dycott Welsh King in their class.

    “This is his sixth appearance at Windsor, and he’s been in the championship every time; I’ve been second to Ross twice here now, too,” said Amy, who noted that she was riding with a fractured foot but was delighted to be called forward into reserve. “I’ve strapped my foot up and so I don’t feel I’ve quite had the preparation that I would have liked.”

    Amy added: “The course was particularly challenging’ this year. It’s one of the toughest Windsor tracks I’ve ridden for a long time. Lisa builds a track for a true rider. Number four (a pen with two water trays) was definitely a rider frightener. If you rode into it a bit unsure you weren’t coming out!”

    Judges of the four hotly-contested working hunter classes, that offered Royal International (RIHS) tickets to the highest placed unqualified combinations, were Ann Nicolls (conformation and show) and Gillian Cowell (jump).

    Gillian said: “The course had a very good flow and combinations were able to get into a good, working rhythm around the whole course. There was a dog-leg in the corner at the beginning that caught a few people out. They really needed to set their stride up correctly to get through it. A few were panicking and consequently they knocked the next fence. There were a few simple knock downs when ponies got flat, but overall, the standard was high and there were so many lovely animals forward.”

    Ann added: “Both our champion and reserve performed brilliantly in the jumping and performance phases as well as in the championship. They were both very nice examples of their breeds, and they did lovely shows; they had the top marks of the day.”

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