Showing highlights: Spartacus reigns in battle *H&H Plus*

  • Hunter contenders are out in force, a novice worker makes a winning debut and a young rider triumphs over a tough track

    BSPS Area 6 flat and working hunter training show, Dallas Burston Polo Club, Warks

    It was a battle of the greats in the hunter championship as Claire Oliver and Cudlic Spartacus (Sparky) took the overall title over Jayne Ross and Bloomfield Greystones. Sparky – a sport horse by Foxcourt Andante – is in his second season with Team Oliver, who have had him since his owner, Susan Granger, bought him as a raw, unbroken four-year-old from his breeder Lucy Williams.

    The upstanding middleweight was one of last term’s top novice candidates, landing the novice supreme at the National Hunter championships. “He’s a proper middleweight and we really do rate him,” said Robert Oliver. “He’s the right type to go really far. We hope to hunt him with the Ledbury this season.”

    Jayne’s ride was the five-year-old Crosstown Dancer son Bloomfield Greystones, who is owned by her husband Alan.

    Team Ross also landed the cob championship with Bombardier while Alice Homer became intermediate champion with the reigning Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) riding horse of the year Casino III.

    “He’s a pleasure to own”

    One of the circuit’s most consistent working hunter riders proved she hadn’t lost an inch of her game over lockdown, as she took both novice and open working hunter pony accolades.

    Emily Gaynor-Smith’s novice champion was a new face, the dark bay intermediate Grafton Street (Ronnie). The five-year-old Irish-bred gelding is by the showjumping sire Condios and out of Vampire Slayer. He was bought just two months ago.

    In the championship, Ronnie was ridden to victory by Georgia Aungier as Emily opted to ride her 15hh novice winner, the coloured gelding Rachan Westcountry Too.

    “We were looking for an intermediate and Mum’s only condition was that it wasn’t grey, coloured or a mare,” said Emily, who trains with her mother Catherine Taylor as well as eventer Michael Owen. “Her reason was that if we had a bad day then at least we hadn’t spent hours washing.”

    Emily also won the open accolade with Ellas Melody.

    Lily Richardson took the mini working hunter title with the Welsh section A Elberry Suilen.

    “Suilen loves to jump,” said Lily’s mother Lucy. “He won his first Royal International ticket with Emma Atkins at the start of the season. She jumps him to teach him the ropes over the bigger tracks. He’s a cool pony.”

    Reserve went to last year’s 133cm mountain and moorland working hunter pony of the year winners, Milford Fair Honeybee and Ila Wingrove.

    The show pony honours went to the young prospect Stanley Grange Gilt Edge (Annabel Drake). The 148cm contender is just a five-year-old and has previously been shown to top level in-hand.

    “She’s a gutsy rider”

    Despite just celebrating her 11th birthday, plucky young rider Gracie Aungier jumped a mega round in the open 14hh workers to win and stand section reserve. Her ride was the coloured Allandy Gold Spark (Andy). Andy has a real rags to riches story.

    “We bought Andy back in 2013,” explained Gracie’s sister Georgia, who produces the pony from home and also rode him to win at Hickstead in 2015. “He had been run as a showjumping pony but was advertised as dangerous so I pretty much had to restart him.”

    Andy has been on loan to Maddie Plumb for the past two seasons, the pair landing second at HOYS as well as two consecutive wins and a championship at Burghley.

    “He came home after HOYS last year and we have been training throughout winter,” added Georgia, who led Gracie to win the HOYS lead-rein hunter pony final in 2018. “Gracie gets on a lot of my breakers at home as she’s a very gutsy rider. She also teaches most of the young little ponies to start jumping.”

    Ref Horse & Hound; 20 August 2020