Prolific hunter shines at Royal Cheshire County Show *H&H Plus*

  • A side-saddle pilot books a HOYS slot on her first attempt while a New Forest stallion stands in-hand supreme at Royal Cheshire

    HAVING only their second side-saddle outing, Katie Crozier and Royal Engagement (Hugo) clinched another ladies’ win and this time a coveted Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) ticket at Royal Cheshire County Show.

    “For a big horse, he is light and elegant and covers the ground so easily, and he goes equally well side-saddle and astride,” said Katie, who will be making her debut at Birmingham after contesting this, her first-ever HOYS qualifier.

    A previous Birmingham lightweight hunter finalist with Claire Oliver, Hugo originally joined Vicky Smith’s Cheshire yard this season to produce for Tony and Sue Granger, but after falling in love with the Financial Reward nine-year-old, Vicky’s partner Alan Marnie decided to buy him.

    “A few people noted what a good ladies’ horse Hugo looked, but when I said I wasn’t a fan of riding side-saddle, Katie, who started with us this year, was quick to reply that she was,” explained Vicky.

    Seizing an early opportunity, Vicky swiftly despatched Katie and Hugo to Northallerton for a debut outing, where the pair won and claimed their Hickstead ticket.

    Earlier in the day here at Cheshire, Hugo had taken the reserve hunter championship after standing second to the winning lightweight and champion.

    Proving he goes equally well astride, side-saddle and is mega adaptable, Hugo was ridden by Vicky in the hunter class. However, due to a clash of classes, she handed the reins to Katie for the hunter championship before they switched saddles for the ladies’ class to put in another foot-perfect performance.

    “Hugo was just so good,” concluded Katie, who was overjoyed her mother Sandra and sister Alison had travelled from Northern Ireland to be at the show.

    Katie has an enviable CV on the Irish circuit with wins and places at Dublin, Balmoral and the Northern Ireland Festival.

    Local rider and producer Robert Walker is always delighted to clinch a hunter championship on his home ground and it was the turn of Jill Day’s Somerville Lad to take the 2021 tricolour.

    “He is a lovely true blood lightweight who is still maturing and remains low mileage, but he has a great brain,” said Robert, who also topped the heavyweights with Elusive Gold.

    Flying the native breed flags

    EVEN before the final reckoning, the Price Family supreme in-hand championship was a memorable occasion for Hayley Reynolds as the local owner and producer fielded two champions, Peronne The Navigator (New Forest) and Drybarrows Advocate (Fell).

    With Tom Pearson on the end of the supreme lead, Peronne trotted ears pricked all the way to become the choice of Helen Rees to take the supreme title and the coveted ticket to Birmingham.

    As she is just two weeks away from giving birth to her second son (a younger brother to 12-year-old Lewis), Hayley managed to contain her excitement, but could not disguise the pride she had for both ponies and handlers, with Nathan Slack capably showing
    off Advocate.

    Hayley bought Peronne as a foal at foot. In his debut year as a yearling he had just two outings, securing one championship. Left to grow last year, the Moortown Nobby three-year-old colt has landed running this term, clinching four wins and four titles in four outings.

    “I won at HOYS with New Forest Okedene Justin in 2019 and hoped Peronne would be the one to replace him,” said Hayley. “He has an amazing character; nothing fazes him and he loves to be busy. We will now start the groundwork towards backing him later this year.”

    Taking the reserve title was Decland Davies’s champion Welsh section D Llwynhywel Nebuchanezzar, a three-year-old colt by Gwynfaes Culhwch.

    Going for a gallop

    The huge grass rings at Cheshire County showcased horses and ponies galore on the first day. Anne Leaver and Whitegate Dazzler were among the first to test the galloping space.

    Not putting a foot out of place, Sue Benson’s winning lightweight went on to take the cob championship.

    After finishing second and reserve at HOYS in 2019, the 10-year-old by The Bone Maker thrived on being a lockdown pleasure ride at home for Sue, and Anne shares the ride on fun rides and hacks.

    “He is so easy, and when he comes into the ring he has that look-at-me presence and just goes about his job,” said Anne. “He combines quality and bone. I cannot fault him.”

    Wayne Thorneycroft took the riding horse championship riding his winning large Firstman.

    Having bought the Lexicon 11-year-old at the end of 2019, Wayne lost most of last year, but they have enjoyed a good start to this season, the pair standing champion at British Show Horse Association (BSHA) Spring Show.

    Standing reserve were the small novice winners, John Dodson’s quality Chacoa seven-year-old Comberton Cora, who was ably assisted from the saddle by Jo Jack.

    “The champion is a great pattern and gave me a super ride, and the reserve looks an exciting prospect for the future,” said ride judge David Ingle.

    Winning workers

    HOYS mountain and moorland (M&M) workers were out in force on the opening day. Taking the championship was Sarah Parker and her 143cm winner, the Currachmore Cashel 10-year-old Culmore Silver.

    Having had several successful seasons on the flat, Silver is enjoying his second season in workers.

    “He is an extremely bold jumper and I had hoped to event him, but ran out of time,” said Sarah, who also won the 13hh section with Rushill Diplomat.

    Following a tricolour at Malvern, Alasdair Prickett and Redshaw Out The Balou took their second working hunter pony championship in a week when they topped their intermediate section in impressive style.

    Alasdair bought his Irish-bred Balou Du Rouet eight-year-old after viewing him at Joanne Shaw’s yard.

    “He had only been off the boat a few hours, but I tried him, liked him and bought him,” said Alasdair. “He is a bold jumper and a good galloper. This has been the ideal practice for Hickstead.”

    Run of firsts

    KILDARE rider Chloe Salley is currently enjoying a successful tour on the English circuit, and she took the show hunter pony tricolour riding Greylands Maid At Sundown (Molly).

    Chloe is having her first open season with Molly. Having lost most of last year due to Covid, Chloe had plenty of time to get used to her 133cm winner when she took her back to Ireland last summer.

    Now back with producers David Jinks and Adam Forster, Molly claimed a first Royal International Horse Show ticket for Chloe at the first attempt, and this was their first HOYS qualifier.

    “Chloe is our lucky leprechaun and Molly has limb, substance and a fantastic temperament,” said Adam.

    Maintaining his tremendous form, the 153cm winner Merrycorner Mister Bui took the reserve show hunter pony title for Zara Brookes.

    Another new partnership, Lacey Berrett and Royalview Catrina, claimed the show pony championship after heading their 138cm class.

    Lacey’s mother Trudy had always admired Catrina, and when the chance to buy her from Penny Carvosso came up last June, she persuaded her mother Lynne Goodyear to buy the Hightopps Jet nine-year-old.

    “I have never seen the pony do anything wrong and we bought her specifically to teach Lacey the ropes,” said Trudy.

    “She is a relaxed pony and keeps me calm in the ring,” said Lacey, 10, who gained a further win on the day when Greendown Rene topped the 12hh show hunter pony class.

    Patience pays off

    LOCKDOWN perseverance paid off for rider and producer Edward Young who topped the small hunter line-up with Be Smart.

    After an accident with a car as a youngster, Lauren Mollard’s Be Smart understandably remained traffic shy and he had a major spook here in 2019 when a bin lorry rattled past the ring.

    “As the roads were much quieter during lockdown, we spent most of our time out and about gaining his confidence and getting rid of his traffic phobia. It seems to have worked,” said Edward, who stood second with Be Smart at HOYS 2019. “I don’t say we would ride around Piccadilly Circus, but Hyde Park would suit us just fine.”

    In a strong class, the pair had to be at their best today to edge Cheshire stalwarts Becky Patterson and Hartbeat – a pair never out of the top two in five years at Cheshire – into the runner-up spot.


    This report was also available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 1 July

    You may also be interested in…