Showing highlights: Deserved champions pick up prizes and more *H&H Plus*

  • A 2019 RIHS winner, a mini superstar and a consistent open horse are among deserved champions

    BSPS Area 6 working hunter show, Dallas Burton Polo Club, Warks, 18–19 July

    After winning at the Royal International (RIHS) last year in her novice season, a scopey mare ensured she started her 2020 open campaign at the top of the tree. Imogen Rodger, 17, rode Bowland Undercover (Betty) to win both open 15hh and intermediate classes, before netting the section championship.

    Imogen’s mother, Danielle, bought seven-year-old Betty – who is produced by Russell Ingram – two years ago from the Bowland stud unseen and has been “blown away” by the bay mare’s talent and natural boldness over fences.

    “I was looking for a 15-hander to replace Imogen’s 13hh worker,” said Danielle. “I saw a video of Betty loose jumping and ended up buying her unseen. She’s a quirky mare but she’s been amazing. She won Hickstead during her first season with one of only a handful of clears and a 19/20 mark for conformation.”

    A leap of faith

    Nine-year-old Alex Longstaff made a winning British Show Pony Society (BSPS) debut with his similarly aged Welsh section A Halnaker Malachi (Milo). The pair, who first met last November, topped the mini championship.

    Alex’s mother, Lisa, bought Milo unseen from Will Calder, whose daughter, Jess, had ridden him in cradle ranks and narrowly missed out on a mountain and moorland (M&M) Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) ticket.

    “I’d been searching for a cradle pony for months,” explained Lisa, who has Milo based with producer Carl Owen just three miles from her home. “Milo was recommended to me and I was told he was very straightforward. But he was based with the Calders in north Scotland, so a trip to view him would have taken four days. We ended up taking a leap of faith and purchased him unseen and we adore him,” added Lisa.

    Alex spent last season contending flat classes with his show hunter pony Thistledown Las Vegas. “Alex is a typical boy; he’s fun and brave and just loves to jump,” added Lisa. “He was getting bored of flat showing and his face just lights up when he’s jumping. He will jump anything and he’s bonded so well with Milo – he is the perfect pony; he knows his job, but he’s also not a push-button ride so he still teaches Alex.”

    Fitter than ever

    Katy Green scooped the horse tri-colour with her scopey grey gelding, The Prof. The 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse by Tosher Lad – who’s a multi HOYS and RIHS finalist – was on great form. “He’s done a couple of showjumping training shows, but we’ve mainly been hacking,” said Katy. “I never usually get time to hack and it’s been nice to have them so fit. He’s probably fitter than I’d ever have him for the show season.”

    Sunday saw a host of native ponies get their time to shine. The novice M&M accolade went to Gabriella Kozersky riding the Connemara Slieve Rushen Frank, while Debbie Barker-Runiewicz took the open equivalent riding her Exmoor, Moonpenny Aquarius.

    “He’s really striking”

    Alice Homer and her striking steel-grey Echo Prince jumped to novice victory. The 15hh four-year-old belied his lack of experience on his affiliated showing debut. Alice and her mother Loraine Homer bought the gelding, who is a pure-bred Irish Draught, from Goresbridge sales last summer.

    “His breeding really stuck out to us,” explained Alice of the Echo King son who is out of a Clover Hill mare. “He’s really striking on the eye and is also very quiet.”

    Alice was also second in the open horse workers on her new 17hh heavyweight, Little Joe, a former event horse. Alice’s team-mate Olivia Minihane secured a red in the novice intermediates riding her own Irish-bred Veuve Clicquot, who was champion at Equifest last year. The riders produce their ponies from the same yard in Warwickshire.

    “My mum and granddad actually bought Clicquot from the sales when he was a three-year-old before he was bought by Olivia,” said Alice.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 30 July 2020