Horses at Devon County prove that it’s never too late to change it up and shine in a new sphere, as H&H’s Alex Robinson reports
IT was third time lucky for Kieran Baslington and Don Barton’s impressive bay gelding Ballycreen His Lordship (Lordie) who jumped to the head of the working hunter class at Devon County, making it three clear rounds from three starts in Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) qualifiers.
“He’s a super-easy ride and Katie’s done a fabulous job with him,” enthused Kieran, who also scored the coloured section title with Don’s plaited horse Langaller Tarak (Carrot).
Despite his consistent formbook, this is Lordie’s first season as an open working hunter and he’s heading to the Royal International (RIHS) to contend the worker final later in the month.
“He’s got the biggest heart but he’s got all the scope, too; he could be a jumper when he’s done with showing,” Kieran added.
Kieran also enjoyed some good placings in hunter ranks with other rides. The Shropshire producer classifies Devon County as an annual “holiday” for the team.
“A lot of Don’s horses were bred down here, including Carrot,” he explained. “So we make a bit of a trip of it and stay with Charles Upham at Langaller Farm. It’s five hours door to door, but it was very much worth it.”
Langaller breeding was in the ribbons elsewhere, with three-year-old Langaller Oxford Don landing the hunter breeding championship. The gelding by Irish Draught Sandy’s Light out of Chantry Clover Girl was champion at both Three Counties and Royal Bath and West earlier in the season.
Main ring draws crowds
WHILE unfortunately the show had been stripped of some of its HOYS qualifiers, there were plenty of opportunities for new combinations to get a feel for a busy county show atmosphere without the pressure, and RIHS tickets were also on offer.
As usual, the main ring at Devon was buzzing, the hunter weight classes being a particular highlight. The overall accolade went to the winning lightweight, Vincent Seddon’s nine-year-old Loughanboy (Malcolm).
The Mermus R gelding was formerly run as an event horse, but Vincent saw his potential for the show ring when he went to view him last October.
“I’d been at the yard for 30 seconds and knew he was coming home with me,” said Vincent, who was on the hunt for a new ride to replace his former top horse who had found a new home in Germany.
“Initially, I had visions of campaigning Malcolm as a worker, but he’s a big, scopey horse with plenty of movement so the more I did with him the more I thought he could succeed on the flat.”
“We’re enjoying a quiet season and picking our shows,” added Vincent, who is RIHS bound with Malcom after picking up a ticket on their show ring debut.
“I love Devon and the day couldn’t have been more perfect, from the tremendous ground to the atmosphere. Malcolm ate up the grass ring. I did wonder if he’d get bored as a show horse, but he seems to love the occasion.”
Reserve was Emma Gibson riding her own heavyweight winner State Of Play.
Arab horses were also in the spotlight and scooping the gelding class and section title on route to a place at HOYS was Tash Nelson with Diane Atkin’s Forever Spirit Of Versace (James). The Forever Besson 13-year-old out of Love By Design will be making his NEC debut after several near misses during his career under saddle.
“We’ve been trying for this since we started showing him back in 2017,” said producer Tash, who will now join her wife Kirsty and the mare CS Lelisha at HOYS after they qualified at Aintree in June. “James has been so close so many times; I think we’ve had five reserve champions as well as countless class wins.”
Tash and Kirsty also run James’ sire on the team for breeders Mike and Sharon Foreman.
“James is very similar to his dad,” said Tash. “He’s Mr Reliable and I adore riding him. There were a lot of tears today.”
Team Charlesworth had four animals through to the Price Family in-hand supreme and taking the HOYS ticket was Alan Charlesworth leading Joanne Adams’ stunning riding pony broodmare Megland Moonglow, who was shown with a foal at foot. She books a return trip to the prestigious NEC final.
“It’s lovely to be rewarded”
THE ridden Welsh tricolour was scored by Emily Knock riding the typey dun Welsh section D gelding Llanfyllin Apollo. The 13-year-old by Llanfyllin Cream Boy out of Llanfyllin Violet came to Emily for reschooling in 2015.
“He was nervous and had a few issues but he had loads of potential,” said Emily. “I really gelled with him and by the summer we were in full swing; that season he finished second in the Picton novice final at the National Pony Society summer championships.”
Emily was given the opportunity to buy Apollo from his owners the following autumn.
“I just couldn’t see him go, so my parents bought him for me, to my absolute surprise, as a Christmas present,” Emily added. “He’s been on the back burner a bit due to client’s ponies but this year he did qualify for the RIHS. It’s lovely to be rewarded for the hard work and he really tries for me these days.”
“We’re quietly excited”
A FOUR-YEAR-OLD lifted the overall show pony title on her first appearance at county level. Fiona Dymond’s 148cm Diptford Graceful (April), ridden by Tori Dymond, kept a level head through the class and championship despite her lack of mileage. April was bought last summer directly from breeder Susan Freeth.
“We’d been looking for a pony for a while and when April’s advert came up I went the very next day to see her,” said Fiona of the pretty mare by Barkway Overture out of Diptford Dahlia. “Sometimes you see something and just have to go for it.”
April was backed at home by Tori and, like all of the Dymond’s ponies, is home-produced from their yard in Cornwall.
“She’s a fabulous pony,” added Fiona. “It was all completely new for her today; from the rings to the working in set-up. She has lots of possibilities, too; Tori still has another year in 148cms and she’ll also show as a small intermediate and part-bred. We’re quietly excited about her.
“April, my other daughter, Abi, and I do everything together from home; we’re a little team.”
This report is also available to read in H&H magazine, on sale Thursday 15 July
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