Stuart Hollings: All the fun of the championships [H&H VIP]

  • By the time you read this, the principal national championship shows will have taken place and many competitors will be focusing their attention on the grand finale of the season — the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS). The results at championship shows can often give an indication of what to expect at Birmingham.

    Fresh faces that blossom at the end of the season occasionally rise to the top at the championships, sometimes beating major players who can begin to look jaded after a busy summer campaign.

    One such pony was Pennyroyal Little Pageboy — well presented by Kinvara Garner and home-bred/home-produced by the “royal family of showing”, the Jago/Carvosso team — who went through the card at the British Show Pony Society’s (BSPS) 45th championships.

    I can boast an indirect connection with Pageboy, having successfully shown both his dam Padrig Honeymoon and granddam Culross Maid of Honour, who twice won under saddle at Wembley as well as the pony section of the in-hand final.

    Unfortunately we will not get a chance to see whether Pageboy can maintain form and emulate his“grandma”as a HOYS rule prevents him from competing at the NEC — Jamie Mead, nee Jago, is judging the mini show ponies there on the same day.

    I remember the BSPSChampionships in the early days, with only a handful of classes for working hunter ponies and mini show ponies, which were not represented at HOYS then.

    Although there were over 370 classes this time, the show returned to being a more relaxed affair and there was a better streaming system leading to the supreme award, which allowed every category of pony to be represented when competing for the overall crown. In recent years it has been like competing in the rush hour and with so many titles on offer, it was unclear which pony was the “best in show”.

    Showing aside, the BSPS also excelled on the entertainment front and the programme included a Great BSPS Bake Off evening where 80 or so children decorated cookies. The star baker in the children’s 12-strong cake class took home a Great British Bake Off book and the winning adult won a day’s cookery course at Daylesford, kindly donated by Lady Bamford.

    Thursday evening resembled Crufts with more than 350 entries in the dog show, and on the last night party goers were entertained by a live band — who said championship shows can’t be fun?

    The old and the young

    I particularly enjoy attending smaller shows held on major show grounds, which give you a better perspective of how beautiful some sites really are. I always look forward to the National Pony Society (NPS) Area 4 show held at the Great Yorkshire ground.

    Another favourite is the Lincolnshire show base. It hosted this year’s Irish Draught show at which two A-listers battled for the £1,000 purse in the Blue Chip Challenge — Claire Oliver and the beribboned Loughkeen Dancing Lord did well to fend off the challenge from the current HOYS supreme horse Hallmark IX, shown by Simon Reynolds.

    It was gratifying to see two new classes receive enough support for them to continue in 2015.

    At the NPS Summer Championships at Malvern, NPS Area 4 treasurer Stephen Howard won the innovative 50-plus class for those who had not competed for at least 10 years, on Saith Magical Ginger. At the other end of the scale, 20-year-old Polly Coles won the inaugural young riders class with middleweight Redwood Ash, at the National Hunter Show.

    Column originally published in H&H magazine on Thursday 18 September, 2014