After being scouted as a potential superstar by one of the best producers in the game, this upstanding middleweight and hunt horse is yet to let anyone down. Alex Robinson speaks to his connections, both past and present
Stable name: Ritchie
Class: middleweight hunter
Breeding: by Lux Z out of Dunroe
Rider: Polly Coles
Owner: Debbie Harrod
Best results: 2016, four-year-old hunter champion Balmoral; 2017, first and novice hunter champion Royal Windsor, novice hunter champion national hunter supreme championships, first middleweight hunters and hunter champion Hickstead Derby, first middleweight hunters Royal International first middleweight hunters and reserve hunter champion HOYS; 2018, second middleweight hunters HOYS; 2019, first middleweight hunter and hunter champion Lincoln county; supreme of show national hunter championships, first middleweight hunters and hunter champion Hickstead Derby; 2021, first middleweight hunters and hunter champion British Show Horse Association Spring Show
Owner/rider Polly Coles
“MY mum, Debbie Harrod, first saw ‘Ritchie’ win at HOYS [Horse of the Year Show] in 2017 with Jayne Ross. The following year at Midland Counties, I was riding back to the lorry on my own horse and Mum announced she’d bought Ritchie at the side of the ring. I’d never even sat on him but picked up a first ride in the championship at Three Counties later in the season, and again at the National Hunter Championships where he took supreme.
“The more atmosphere there is, the better Ritchie goes; he thinks everyone is there to look at him. He’s a showman through and through. Landing the supreme hunter championship at the Hickstead Derby meeting in 2019 was one of my career highlights. It was my first ride in that main arena and I’ll never forget it.
“Any show hunter, no matter what weight, has to stand up to a day’s hunting. Ritchie has whipped in for the Rockwood Harriers and has done three years mastering for the Ainsty South and Badsworth and Bramham Moor. He can pass through any country and loves a drain or a ditch. He has manners to burn at a meet, but as soon as you’re off he sits up and gets down to business. After the 2021 show season, he’ll be back out mastering.
“At home, we do call him Victor Meldrew. For all his ease in the ring, he’s quite grumpy in the stable; if he’s got a haynet, he’s happy and would rather not be bothered.”
Former producer Jayne Ross
“I BOUGHT Ritchie specifically with his former owner, Bella Malim, in mind. His temperament makes him the most ideal amateur mount, but shortly after he arrived with me, Bella fell pregnant and I was lucky enough to keep the ride on him.
“He’s an uphill horse that you can really ride forward. You’re sitting behind a lovely head and neck, and you can really put your leg around him and push on.
“He loves to perform, but has always been an old head on young shoulders. At HOYS in 2017, he was just a five-year-old but he sat up and pinged away, giving me an incredible ride. Type-wise, he’s an upstanding, four-square horse with movement, short cannons and limb. I’m old-fashioned and I like my hunters to be true to type, and Ritchie ticks all the middleweight boxes.
“I’m always in touch with the Bloomfield stud, keeping my eye out for potential horses, and he’s definitely been one of my best finds.”
Judge Tim Wiggett
“I WAS fortunate to judge Bloomfield Valhalla at the Sport Horse Breeding of Great Britain National Hunter Championships, where he was made overall supreme of show. He was one of the finest examples of a true middleweight show horse that I’d seen for a very long time. He’s got good conformation, plenty of quality bone and there isn’t too much daylight underneath him. He’s a great mover and goes through all the gears well, oozing quality as he does so.
“On the day, I liked that he went forward with enthusiasm and was well balanced with a lovely rhythm. Moving into the gallop he excelled effortlessly, as he lowered and opened up the stride with his ears pricked forward, swallowing the ground underneath him. He then came back to the rider so politely, making for a fabulous ride for both the judge and his own jockey. All these attributes are what make him an outstanding, beautifully produced show hunter.”
This exclusive feature is also available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale date Thursday 17 June 2021
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