Stablemates land both supreme accolades, show ring debutantes strut their stuff and an NHS worker also has his glory
CHAPS Summer Championship “Covid Show”, Arena UK, Lincs, 5–6 September
Team Elenor/Parrott brought just two animals but dominated both the in-hand and ridden supremes ahead of high-class competition. It was the very first time off the yard for day one’s in-hand conqueror, the three-year-old non-native champion Myspires Spirit Of Summer, led by Craig Elenor, but she behaved impeccably.
Then, in a hard-fought finale on day two, the native horse champion Starlight (Queenie), ridden by Sara Parrott, produced a sparkling performance to give her delighted owner/rider a first time in the supreme spotlight.
Summer, by Sempers Spirit, is owned by Jemma and Sophie Atkinson, and joined Team Elenor in April. “We’d been looking for a horse for Sophie to ride next season, but couldn’t find one,” said Sara. “Then we saw a video on Facebook of Summer, I sent it to Jemma and she bought her over the phone from the breeder, Liane Verity. Craig and I have broken her in over the summer; she’s riding away beautifully. She will do a novice season next year, before hopefully doing opens and ultimately being a broodmare.
“We debated long and hard whether or not to bring her here, but decided the education would do her good.”
Supreme co-judge Polly Mallender said: “When this horse entered the ring she oozed quality and we all commented on her, her movement and her type. Her conformation was excellent and she was in good condition – just right for a three-year-old – and not carrying too much weight.”
At the other end of the experience scale, Queenie – now nine – has been placed at both Hickstead and Birmingham, and won three Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) qualifiers last term. However this was her sole outing of 2020. Craig and Sara originally bought the mare for client Flick Haigh, who also used to drive her.
“She has even pulled a cart at Appleby Fair,” said Sara, who bought her back after Flick retired from showing. “I adore the mare and couldn’t see her leave us. I’ve always wanted to win this supreme so to do it on her is really special.”
Polly, who also co-judged this final, said: “We were looking for a short, sweet show with a ‘wow’ factor – some shows went on a little too long. Our supreme got it just right, and the other thing we liked was that it looked well ‘from the inside out’ – it wasn’t covered in oil or coat gloss.”
The reserve in-hand award went to another show ring debutante. This was the Ibbotsons’ home-bred and home-produced two-year-old young sport horse champion Heathersedge New Vision (Nelly), a daughter of the Desperado x Jazz sire Asgard’s Ibiza out of a Negro mare.
“In these difficult times, we wanted to support the society by attending – albeit with just one in-hander this time,” said handler Laurie Ibbotson.
“I told my sister Kerrie about three weeks ago to pick one youngster out of the field, and she chose Nelly. We hadn’t done anything with her, so it was a bit of a shock for her to be handled, bathed and trimmed up – she’d only been on the headcollar at home about 20 times. This was her first-ever trip away from home, too.”
Danni Radford claimed the ridden reserve, rewarded for a lovely show on Emma Vince’s free-moving part-bred Welsh gelding, Rhyfel Saxon Prince. Now 10, Prince has been owned by Emma since he was a foal, and Danni has produced him since breaking him in at four.
“He’s spent this year jumping, going to the beach and just having fun,” said a delighted Danni, who earned her place in the supreme literally moments before. “I had no time to prepare a show – a quick jacket change, stock on and we were in. I just tried to do something different.”
Although the pair have been to HOYS three times, amazingly this was their championship debut here. “We just wanted to support the society for running a show at all in these hard times,” added Danni.
Another to catch the eye was the ever-enthusiastic veteran champion Star Of Michleane (Snoopy) who, at the grand age of 28, is looking and going as well as ever for home-producing sisters Leanne and Michelle Pickford.
“We have owned him since he was four,” said Southport-based Leanne, who is an operations manager in the control room for Lancashire police. “He was our very first pony and has made every single dream come true. Michelle, who also works full time, shows him in the ring and I do the work at home.”
It’s not all been plain sailing, though. “He had to have a colic operation 11 years ago, but he bounced back from that,” added Leanne. “He’s given us so much success and is an absolute character. He still rules the roost at home – he’s a pony in a million and owes us nothing.”
The win rounded off a good day for the girls, whose “main” contender, Delfyw Caradog (Drew), landed the native pony title. “We only brought Snoopy to keep Drew company,” laughed Leanne.
As always, the junior classes were well supported. After some excellent competition, the junior/intermediate title fell to home-producer Sophie Barker, 17, and her seven-year-old small native mare Paintball Rachel May.
“May is our first coloured pony, and this is Sophie’s last year as a junior rider, so to get this sash is all the more special,” said Sophie’s mother Helen, with whom she shares the ride at home. “This was a whole new experience for us.”
“I couldn’t believe it”
Paramedic David Bennett celebrated an unusual double first at this show. He won the unplaited novice pony class riding Charlotte Rafferty’s new purchase, the seven-year-old stallion Starbucks, while debuting a very special jacket.
“I won a competition during lockdown for NHS key workers,” explained David, who works full time. “People had to nominate you and then it was decided on votes. I couldn’t believe it when I got over 5,000 likes and won this made-to-measure jacket – it’s obviously lucky, as this was Star’s second outing and first affiliated win!”
High hopes for special colt
Producer John Cutts introduced an exciting newcomer to the scene. Despite this being just his second-ever show, Hayley and Karen Sankey’s home-bred yearling Canaans Venga Boy won the non-native yearling class and was youngstock section champion, going on to head the open non-native ponies and stand reserve.
This athletic colt, by Tidkin Talisman out of the successful mare Heathersedge Dawn Patrol, is the first coloured bred by the family, and is destined for a career in showing and dressage.
“We’d also like to use him as a stallion in the future if circumstances allow,” said Hayley. “We breed to keep and as his dam was sadly lost in a freak accident, he’s very special.”
Ref Horse & Hound; 17 September 2020