From champion in-hander, to producer’s star, to amateur ride, this strapping middleweight has followed the path of many successful show horses. Alex Robinson delves into the 2019 BSHA championships amateur hunter victor’s history
Need to know
Lowmoor Windsor (Joey)
Class: middleweight hunter
Breeding: by Makanaky out of Two Joes
(by State Diplomacy)
Breeder: Fran Bullock
Rider: Lorna Blake
Owner: Ann Drabble
Best results: 2013, first hunter youngstock classes at Newark and Notts, Lincolnshire County, East of England and North of England shows; 2014, first and reserve champion sport horse Midland Counties, first and champion hunter Derby County; 2016, first and novice hunter champion BSHA Home Counties, first RIHS qualifier Herts County, first and champion HOYS hunter qualifier Midland Counties; 2017, first HOYS qualifier Derbyshire Festival; 2019, first and champion amateur hunter BSHA championships
Rider Lorna Blake
“I’VE known ‘Joey’ since he was a foal and I actually led him as a yearling at the East of England Show; he struck me on the back of my heel and I ended up in the on-site ambulance. I’ve also known his owner, Ann, for a long time and she kindly lets me play about with her horses.
“With Joey, you never know which horse you’re going to get in the ring until you’re there; some days he’s amazing while others he’s seriously unenthusiastic. I’m pretty new to the hunter scene and while I’ve ridden Joey for four years, this will be our first full season together.
“I have some dreams; I’d love to ride him at Windsor, qualify for Horse of the Year Show [HOYS] and gallop on Royal International [RIHS] soil.
“I’ve had a couple of near misses in qualifiers, and at our final HOYS attempt of the 2019 season I had a total meltdown. I’d had a stressful year with family illness and I’d travelled far down south after work to compete at a show, so I was pretty exhausted. Joey was pulled in top and after ending up second I burst out crying in front of the judges.
“I crawled back to the lorry with my head down and to my surprise producer Jayne Ross had followed me. I didn’t know her but she came over and gave me a massive hug. It was possibly one of the kindest things which has ever happened to me. Hopefully we get the green light to compete this year and can finally have our moment.”
Former producer Jo Bates
“I’VE always thought a lot of Joey. He gave the most lovely ride and from a professional’s perspective, when you have a few horses at a show, he was a dream; you could just pick him up ready for the class with minimal working-in. You were always sitting in the middle of him and he was super-comfortable. He was quite lazy when I got him so I worked hard on getting him forward and enjoying his job. When he left he was established in his ride and it’s been nice to watch him go on and be successful with someone else; it confirms that you’ve done a good job. Type-wise he’s superb and couldn’t be anything but a middleweight.
“I’ve judged the amateur classes at the RIHS before and they are seriously competitive, but Joey is a serious horse so I think he’ll do well.”
Owner Ann Drabble
“I’VE always enjoyed finding foals; I’ve had to develop a knack for it as I could never afford to buy ready-made horses. Most of the foals I’ve bought have gone on to do jobs and have long careers.
“Joey’s sire, Makanaky, throws beautiful stock, and when I saw Joey as a foal he was exactly my type; compact, four-square and you could see exactly where the saddle was going to sit in a few years’ time. Even now, at 17.2hh, he’s compact and fills the eye well.
“Joey was a big winner in-hand as a youngster, especially with the old-fashioned judges who liked his stamp. One of our highlights was at Midland Counties in 2014 when he won his class, beating The Queen’s entry, which was a great honour as she certainly knows a good horse.
“I backed Joey myself and hacked him around the farm before he had a career with Jo and now Lorna. I’ll never sell him, but as I’m 76 I won’t ride him; it would be like putting a granny in a Ferrari – not safe in the slightest.
“I’ve been to HOYS a few times but I try not to get wrapped up in it all as it’s just another show. But I’d love Lorna to get there; she works hard and is a genuine person. We’ve been friends for years so I’d love it to happen for her one day.”
This exclusive column is also available to read in this Thursday’s H&H magazine (1 April, 2021)
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