Sir Henry steps up at Midlands Counties *H&H Plus*

  • A hack stallion is HOYS bound, an Exmoor nets a section title and a show team rack up four qualifier wins at Midland Counties, held at Arena UK, Lincs

    A STUNNING young stallion headed a quality-filled line of 13 to take the Price Family Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) in-hand ticket under the eagle eyes of judge Tim Wiggett. Despite the plethora of choice, Tim had little hesitation in choosing Joanna Adams’ four-year-old hack Sandboro Sir Henry, superbly shown by Simon Charlesworth, to go to Birmingham.

    “This was one of the strongest in-hand qualifiers I’ve ever had the pleasure to judge,” said Tim. “The quality was fantastic and the animals were beautifully presented. The champion was fantastically well made, with an amazing ‘look-at-me’ presence, a great step and a good walk – it owned the ring from the moment it walked in.”

    Henry is certainly due for a change of luck – in 2019, he qualified for the then Cuddy final at Birmingham and Simon had got as far as plaiting up ready for the class.

    “I noticed he wasn’t quite himself, though, so I called the vet,” said Simon. “He found Henry had a raging temperature and racing heartbeat, so instead of leading him into the ring, I drove him to the veterinary hospital at Lichfield as an emergency.

    “It was decided he had some kind of virus, but he had every test under the sun and they never found out exactly what it was – thankfully, he recovered.”

    The four-year-old son of Rotherwood Peeping Tom was a Royal Welsh winner and youngstock champion as a yearling, and Simon took over his production from father Alan in 2019. Last year, Henry was supreme at the National Pony Society (NPS) Autumn Festival.

    “I am absolutely thrilled for the owner, who has been so very supportive,” added Simon. “I was determined to try to get him back there [to HOYS] for her sake and he is some horse.”

    “Performed to perfection”

    RESERVE went to delighted home-producer Nicole Wayman with her typey Welsh section B stallion, Cadlanvalley Bentley – full brother to Cadlanvalley Buzby.

    “This was a charming pony – also extremely well-made – and oozed star quality,” said Tim. “It performed to perfection.”

    This was the first time out in two years for 11-year-old Bentley since he won the Welsh B ridden class at HOYS in 2019 with Nicole, who bought him as a three-year-old and broke him in herself.

    “He has been busy covering at home and will be shown in-hand this season for the first time,” said Rotherham-based Nicole.

    Twenty went to post in a strong HOYS working hunter class over David Norlander’s up-to-height track. Eight clear rounds ensued, and good marks across the board ensured a first HOYS ticket for Allan Birch with Vicky Tennant’s smart bay mare, Bold Adventure.

    The Porsch seven-year-old was snapped up by the Tennants in 2019. She has now been with Allan for nine months, concentrating on showjumping, and is through to newcomers and Foxhunter second rounds. They have also qualified for the winter novice final at Hickstead, where she will contest the workers too.

    “She has the heart of a lion and always tries 100%,” said Allan. “The course was quite tight so you needed a quality jumper rather than just a scopey one. Hopefully, she will cope very well at HOYS.”

    The title, however, fell to another exciting mare, Nelly Newton – Libby Cooke’s winning restricted ride for owner/breeder Katy Wilson. She scored the highest marks – 92 out of 100 – from all three classes.

    This is a poignant ride for Libby, as the Dondo eight-year-old descends from Foxhunter and grade C finalist Cherry Bay, who was bred by Libby’s late partner Richard Sumner and is the first horse she has produced since his death in 2019.

    “We have taken it slowly with her – just doing a handful of shows – but this was her third win from four outings,” said Libby. “She has a great temperament and lovely easy way of going, and we will now begin to do opens.”

    The HOYS pony workers were also well supported and the title here fell to Eve Reading and her already-qualified Makers Laugh, despite having finished second in their 153cm class.

    “In the championship, this pony went the best,” explained co-judge Emma Coates. “It is a separate class after all.”

    In ridden hunter ranks, Jill Day’s magnificent lightweight View Point (Sean) eclipsed strong opposition to win, qualify and stand champion, completing his preparation for Royal Windsor where he is bidding to take a third consecutive title.

    Reserve went to Rose Bailey’s heavyweight victor and reigning HOYS supreme horse, Twinshock Warrior, partnered by Jayne Ross.

    Team Walker’s star middleweight, Mardi Gras (Jack), headed a class of 13 to claim his first HOYS place. The six-year-old, by Jack Of Diamonds, was bought two years ago from breeder Angus McDonald in Ireland but this was only his second UK outing.

    Quartet of winners

    TEAM Forster/Jinks was another in-form squad, taking four HOYS tickets over the weekend. Amy Jones and Noble Kings Speech, in their first season in small hunter ranks, headed a marathon class at their first HOYS attempt; the new combination of Reise Shakespeare and Antony Gribbin’s Stretcholt About Time won the part-bred qualifier – adding this to their show pony ticket already in the bag – and Adam Forster partnered Karen Johnson’s ridden Welsh D Menai Eurostar to win and stand HOYS section champion.

    The tally was completed by another new combination, Lily Varley with David Jinks’ 122cm show hunter pony Carrwood Pharaoh.

    This competitive section was headed by Jasean Spraggett’s charge, 153cm victor Carnsdale Cover Story, piloted by Jasean’s pupil Harriet Bailey. The “teacher” had a good weekend herself, standing second in the lightweight hunters with Noble Queen Bee (Sally) and landing the open British Show Pony Society (BSPS) Champion of Champions qualifier with her stylish Connemara mare Lottera Zoe (Lottie).

    “Lottie was bought for £1,000 and was meant to be my home ‘play pony’, but she has turned into a real-life unicorn,” said Jasean. “We spent lockdown doing dressage training with Nick Lawson, and the difference in both her and Sally is amazing.”

    Florrie Duncalf followed on from her Stoneleigh form with Whiteleaze Debutante to claim another HOYS show pony ticket and championship at the first attempt – scoring this time with Julie Rucklidge’s Templeton-produced 138cm Jackets Dynasty.

    A Hickstead family reunion

    AN Exmoor carried the rare breeds flag in style when heading his second Royal International (RIHS) 122cm worker class in a week, going one better here to take the title ahead of some stellar names.

    Producer Debbie Barker-Runiewicz and Moonpenny Delphinus (Finn) netted the 10-year-old’s first RIHS ticket at Houghton Hall the previous weekend. He follows in the hoofprints of his sire, Moonpenny Aquarius, the previous HOYS and RIHS 133cm worker multi-finalist who booked his own RIHS return ticket at Vale View.

    “We only went to this show with Finn as we need the practice,” said Debbie. “He can be a bit challenging to ride sometimes, although he has all the scope in the world over fences. I had no expectations of winning but he gave me the best ride I’ve ever had on him.”

    Talking point: “Showing has to change”

    THE decision to re-open online entries until two days before the show paid off, as the huge numbers forward clearly showed.

    “I do think this is the way forward – particularly for the big county shows,” said co-secretary Sharon Thomas. “Showing is so expensive now that people aren’t prepared to make multiple entries weeks in advance – particularly in youngstock classes – on the off-chance the animals might be ready.

    “Showing has to change in order to keep up with the times.”


    This report is also available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 17 June

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