We miss watching our favourite horses during the Covid-19 lockdown, so we’re finding out more about some of the stars we can’t wait to see once competition returns. Alex Robinson learns all about a classy horse with a cheeky streak who’s won on Royal turf
Times Square III
Breeding: Willowcroft Regal Bronze x Still Time Left
Owners: Guy and Isabella Mears
Rider: Danielle Heath
Breeder: June Dent
Greatest achievements: lightly shown as a hack in 2018, where he was novice champion at North of England spring, BSPS Area 1B and White Rose county. His debut season as a small riding horse the following year saw him win the novice riding horses and overall section championship at Royal Windsor. He also qualified for both Horse of the Year Show and the Royal International, where he stood fifth and seventh, respectively.
Producer/rider Danielle Heath
“I’ve ridden ‘Monkey’ since he was a newly backed four-year-old. He started his showing career as a hack and, having matured, took to riding horse ranks last season. He won his novice class in HM The Queen’s back garden at Royal Windsor and went on to secure the section title.
“He was quite challenging in the beginning. He was a bit backwards in his attitude. It took a lot of hacking, some jumping and a few farm rides to get him thinking forward. Last year he really came into his own and he’s now a superstar. We’ve come so far with him and we owe a lot of his progress to my head groom, Tiffany Smith. Tiffany has a great bond with him and knows him inside out.
“He’s a real showman in the ring. He’s cheeky in the sense that he always has to have something in his mouth or be nibbling on something. He will always be Monkey by name, Monkey by nature.”
Owner/rider Isabella Mears
“We tried Monkey at Magnus Nicholson’s yard in Bedale, North Yorkshire, when he was rising four and I fell in love with him as soon as I saw him. I was impressed by his movement, and in the stable he was such a softie. I remember ringing my dad, Guy Mears, on the way home and telling him that we just had to have him.
“We weren’t sure how Monkey would cope at Windsor as it was his first big show. It was pretty touch and go as to whether we would even run him in the class. But once he stepped into the ring he lit up. He got better and better as the day went on and it proved to us that he loves a big occasion.
“When the reserve was called out, I presumed Jayne Ross had got the championship on her lovely mare Casino III. When Monkey and Danielle were announced, I was in complete and utter shock. Watching their lap of honour in front of Windsor Castle under the beaming sun was so emotional.
“I’ll be riding Monkey in intermediate show riding type classes in the near future. He’s such a lovely, comfy ride, but he does keep me on my toes. If I’m not concentrating, he’ll let me know.”
Judge Paul Cook
“When a horse enters the ring, the first thing you consider as a judge is if it’s the right type for the class. This horse ticked all the boxes and was our winner as soon as he came into the ring at the North of England summer show, but unfortunately he didn’t gallop on the initial go-round. He gave my co-judge a lovely ride, but taking everything into account — he couldn’t come up to win, so he finished second.
“In terms of type and conformation, Times Square was brimming with quality. He had a bit of class about him, was correct with presence and had a good length of rein. He had substance and a good amount of bone. These aspects inevitably helped him move up to take the overall title later in the day.
“We judged the championship as a separate class. He went really well, performing equal to or better than some of the winners. We had no hesitation in making him champion.”
Ref Horse & Hound; 30 April 2020