Drakemyre Puttin On The Ritz: the champion show pony that has turned many heads *H&H Plus*

  • The level-headed gelding with HOYS and RIHS wins has achieved more than most in his youth. Alex Robinson speaks to those who love him best

    Need to know

    Drakemyre Puttin On The Ritz (Alfie)
    Age: eight
    Breed: British Riding Pony
    Classes: 138cm show pony and
    part-bred pony
    Breeding: by Turberry Top Cat out of Pennyroyal Dancing At The Ritz
    Breeder: Mrs L Wilkie
    Height: 138cm
    Rider: India Till
    Owner: Henrietta Till
    Best results: 2018, first 138cm children’s riding pony and champion HOYS; 2019, first 138cm and champion show pony, first Anglo and part-bred ridden and champion and overall supreme pony RIHS, first part-bred final HOYS, first and champion show pony Three Counties, first and champion show pony Great Yorkshire, first supreme part-bred championship North of England.

    OWNER Henrietta Till

    “INDIA first sat on ‘Alfie’ when she was just nine years old, and he was a novice four-year-old. His former owner and producer Katy Carter’s daughter, Poppy, had qualified two ponies for a championship, so Katy asked India to jump on Alfie. A few people outside of the ring said that we had to buy him. He was still very babyish at this point, though he’s always been a dream pony with a level head.

    “At home he’s a chilled-out dude; he hacks out, rides across open fields and he’s recently started dressage. Aside from his lovely character, his presence is something else; the way he stands over the ground, even in the stable, is magnificent. If I could scale him up to 14.2hh I’d be very happy! He loves what he does, and I’ve never seen him sour to this day.

    “Watching India and Alfie win the 2019 Royal International [RIHS] supreme was highly emotional. I think I cried the whole time they were in the ring. Hickstead is a special place for me; I would go as a child with my parents, who I lost a few years ago. My father used to judge showjumping there. To see India in that main arena where he would have stood was incredible.”

    Rider India Till

    “I FIRST rode Alfie while I was still on my 128cm pony [Rotherwood Rainmaker] and I could definitely feel the difference. I was so young, and initially I struggled to sit to Alfie’s paces. He’s always had such a massive stride and a big chest space, so I was bouncing all over the place in trot during that first ride.

    “He’s a funny pony; he has his little quirks but he’s generally easy-going. Sometimes, he’ll just need a quick 10 minutes working in before the class but other days he’ll be a bit more on his toes. Generally, when he steps into the ring he knows what job he’s there to do.

    “To ride in and then win the supreme at the RIHS – in front of all the top showjumpers – was a moment I’ll never forget. My main plan was to ride a show in front of the judges the whole time and keep a good distance from them.

    “For me, it’s Alfie’s stride that sets him apart; when you’re in the ring he always gets into a good rhythm and once he starts he doesn’t stop. He’s a mini horse; the way he stands, the way he moves and the way he presents himself. He’s so elegant, too, and you can definitely tell he’s got Arab in him. He always has his ears pricked and he’s just a happy pony.”

    JUDGE Stuart Hollings

    “MY first impression of the pony, when I first saw him as a five-year-old after capturing the show pony championship at the Horse of the Year Show [HOYS] in 2018, was that he was a true type of 138cm show pony with scope and movement, but needed to strengthen behind.

    “At Midland Counties in 2019, he headed a respectable HOYS part-bred qualifier under me and I was astonished at how much he had improved. His clever trainer Katy Carter later revealed that she had put heavy shoes on him behind over the winter with a heel and slight extension, which had done the trick.

    “The following month, I judged the conformation section of the show ponies at RIHS. Even though he only received my second highest mark of 45 in the class, he went foot-perfect in his show, just as he had gone on the go-round, and was a well deserved winner of the strongest class before landing the coveted championship.

    “However, it was later during the pony supreme in the Hickstead main ring that Drakemyre Puttin On The Ritz really lived up to his name with India Till aboard; the pair gave a memorable display worthy of the supreme title, well choreographed by Katy. It was a masterpiece of ringcraft in that awkward space. They didn’t disappear behind the jumps or into the distance, but respectfully performed in front of the three judges.”

    This feature can also be read in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 6 May

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