Tricia Johnson on who was crowned restricted supreme champion and who took home the coveted Olympia tickets on day two of the summer finale.
A seven-year-old Welsh section A gelding charmed his way to the winter restricted supreme title at the end of a long second day at the British Show Pony Society (BSPS) Championships, braving persistent rain and a biting wind in a hard-fought finale.
Both Sunstars Contador, seven, and jockey Isla Buckley, eight, smiled throughout as handler/producer Craig Elenor showed the pair off to perfection.
Judge Fiona Holton commented: “This lead rein pony was a true-to-type Welsh A with manners to burn and lovely free movement, giving the jockey a safe ride at the same time. It was a real pleasure to judge and a worthy champion.”
Contador is owned by sisters Rebecca Knight and Isla’s mother Rachel Buckley, and was bought by Team Elenor/Parrott just before Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) last year, where he was third in the open class with Victoria Harker.
“He’s a lovely pony — a Jack of all classes,” said Sara Parrott. “Craig [Elenor] said he wishes all ponies were so easy to produce, too — this one is so trainable and straightforward.”
This is Isla’s final year on the lead, so the pair will contest first ridden classes next season.
The team had two shots at the title, as stablemate Parkhill Di Maria, five — owned bybreeder Elaine Sherrard and novice champion last year — was also in contention, havingbeen restricted show hunter pony champion earlier in the day.
Another Welsh A, Thistledown El Toro, claimed the top small breeds LeMieux Olympia direct qualifier, produced by Sharn Linney and beautifully ridden by Lily Brennan, 12. The 11-year-old roan stallion was bred — and is still owned — by Sandy Anderson but is currently on lease to the Brennan family.
“He was very successfully shown in-hand by Colin Tibby and I’d had my eye on him for a long time,” said Sharn, for once not on the end of a lead rein.
“Last year was his first under saddle and he had a fantastic novice season with Talia Aristidou when he was champion at Cheshire County, Staffordshire Country Festival and the BSPS championships here.
“This term he was champion with Lily at NPS Area 7 and BSPS Area 6.”
The large breeds title fell to a delighted Katie Goulding with her UK Nationals victor, White Diamond, who will now make his Olympia debut. This lovely 10-year-old Connemara gelding is certainly an eye-catcher, and has benefitted from a varied life during lockdown.
“I was furloughed from work for five months so we’ve been doing lots of hacking and been to the beach three times,” said Katie. “We’ve also hired arenas when we can to do a bit of jumping.”
Unusually — and due to the restrictive times in which we currently live — the reserves from each section also earned tickets to ‘see Santa.’ In the unfortunate event that Olympia cannot take place, it is hoped these qualifications can, if wished, be carried forward to 2021.
The reserve small breeds award went to Vicki Casey with her own Exmoor stallion Sweetcombe Sunmaker, for whom it will be a second London trip as he also qualified in 2018 — ironically also at Arena UK.
The large breeds reserve went to Clare Fitch with Lauren Baker’s Welsh C stallion Glebedale Johnny Depp, whose last Olympia appearance was with Sam Roberts when Popsters Stud owned him in his novice year.
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