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HOYS champion Rafeekah: the complete showman with a lovable character *H&H Plus*


  • At only six years old, the striking grey Arab gelding landed his first Horse of the Year Show title. Alex Robinson meets the connections of this all-round superstar with plenty left to give...

    Rafeekah fact file

    Breed: Pure-bred Arab
    Breeding: by Designed out of Kaamelia (by Emiliusz)
    Age: eight
    Breeder: Helen Cawley
    Height: 153cm
    Rider: Kimberley Bates
    Owner: Kerry Bates
    Best results: 2019, first Simon Constable’s Equine Vets and Mr and Mrs Roberts HOYS ridden pure-bred Arab of the year championship; first and champion pure-bred Arab HOYS qualifier at Stoneleigh Horse Show; first and reserve champion pure-bred Arab HOYS qualifier at Royal Cheshire County Show.

    Rafeekah’s rider Kimberley Bates

    “IT was never the intention to buy an Arab. In 2017, I’d just finished my years in mountain and moorland young rider classes and was on the hunt for something new.

    “We went to view a part-bred Arab at Rafeekah’s former owner Nina Hutton-McKenzie’s yard and while it was a nice pony, Nina made the mistake of showing us around the rest of her set-up. Rafeekah – know as Meekah – was out in the field showing off and he looked amazing. We’d never owned an Arab before and we had no clue what we were doing, but he was just so gorgeous.

    “We got him home and backed him, and in his first season – 2018 – we did a few smaller shows to get him out and about. The following year, after a few runs as a novice, we chucked him in at the deep end and entered a HOYS [Horse of the Year Show] qualifier. We were last. We went away, watched and learnt, and throughout the season he got better and better. It was quite daunting at first, as the Arab world is a different game – from the way the horses are presented to the rider’s attire and the overall turnout. But it’s been fun and rewarding to improve over time.

    “At HOYS when he went champion, he was a complete showman. He’s the most lovable character and is so easy to do in every single way. He loves his jumping, too, and he’s talented at dressage so I’m tempted to do some eventing. He’s the ultimate all-rounder.”

    Former owner Nina Hutton-Mckenzie

    “I’VE always admired Helen Cawley’s mare, Kaamelia, and her dam, Tehama Ballalina – who is a twice world champion – so when I heard there was a yearling gelding from this line for sale, I jumped at the chance. I went to view Kaamelia’s son, Meekah, and I collected him on the same day.

    “Meekah is so correct in type. He’s got a beautiful head, good legs and a lovely topline with movement to match. I showed him in-hand as a youngster and he won just about everything he could possibly win at county level. Whatever we asked of him, he did. He’s the most gentle, easy-going boy and is totally uncomplicated. He’s perfectly calm at the side of the ring and then he switches on when he’s in the spotlight, which is just what you need in a show horse.

    “It was never my intention to sell him and when Kimberley and Kerry enquired about him, I told them that I knew he could win HOYS one day; he just had the X-factor.

    “Meekah is the picture of his mother. She’s beautiful and I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to have her a few years later. I now have Meekah’s half-brother at home; he’s a yearling and is the spitting image of Meekah in a 16hh chestnut version.”

    Judge Victoria Ayling

    “WHEN I co-judged this horse alongside Frances Atkinson to stand champion in the ridden Arab final at HOYS, there were three combinations tied for the top spots. It was very close, but we agreed that our eventual champion was so spectacular and really excelled in the ride.

    “He was very correct and I couldn’t fault his conformation, type or exuberance. When he came into the ring, he caught my eye with his cadence. As the class progressed through the other transitions neither my co-judge nor I could stop looking at him.

    “It was lovely to watch him in the supreme where he performed beautifully. The jockey got on with her job, too. I’ve never come across the combination before and they both blew us away. They were impeccable and the horse is a great ambassador for the breed, as I’m sure he could do any job asked of him.”

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    This exclusive feature is also available to read in H&H magazine, Thursday 18 March 2021 issue

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