Stuart Hollings: No cure for a showing addiction *H&H VIP*

  • Opinion

    Let me finish the season on a feel-good note with some highlights that have made me smile.

    The matriarch of showing’s “royal family’’, Ghita Jago, celebrated her 94th birthday at Royal Windsor — her favourite event, which she has attended since 1965.

    She’s out every morning at 7am to feed the ponies and has won every major championship, including twice at the Royal Show, Royal Windsor, Royal International and Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).

    One of her eight children, Jamie Mead, describes her mother as a showing addict for whom there is no cure: “There’s no 12-step recovery programme or a stay at The Priory for this’’.

    Asked by her family what she had given up for Lent this time, Ghita’s reply was “speeding’’!

    Tracey Milward lifted the prestigious Torne Valley mountain and moorland championship way back in 2010 on her Dales Waterside Ben II. With the £1,000 prize money, she purchased the Highland foal Lochlands Gypsy Baron, which turned out to be a canny investment as the stallion, now eight years old, won this year’s final and, more importantly, another £1,000 bonanza.

    Teamwork makes the dream work

    If ever there was an award for teamwork, this surely belongs to Katy Carter’s family and friends, who enjoyed tremendous success at HOYS despite their leader Katy being out of action at home.

    One of two legends created at HOYS was the Team Carter-produced Rotherwood Rainmaker, who equalled Ocean So Fair’s record of winning the 128cm show pony class for the fifth time.

    The Lancastrian-bred Pearly King (Elvis) has bowed out at the top after securing the hack of the year title in October for the third time. Right Royal still holds the four-time record but Elvis has come pretty close — also standing reserve twice on his five appearances (not attending in 2015 and 2017) and capturing overall supreme honours in 2012.

    Owner Sarah Carey has produced him from home for the past four seasons and is an inspiration, proving that an amateur can succeed at the highest level.

    I hope that our younger judges have a mental snapshot, as Elvis is a modern day rarity — a true show hack.

    Strictly come showing

    When judging the Ottergayle evening championship at Malvern, we three judges were informed that “the seven paddle’’ had been removed from the pack to avoid joint scores. How does this actually work?

    The following month, when judging again with skating marks at Addington, my nickname was Craig Revel Horwood simply because I gave one competitor 3/10!

    This reminded me of when I judged a “Strictly Come Showing’’ class in South Africa two years earlier, which was a complete “dis–as–ter, darling’’! One pony trotted into the ring, then spooked at the selected props before bolting back to the stables with rider — scoring nul points.

    Best of all was when one co-judge at Addington asked me for some “poli-grip’’ before entering the ring. Flabbergasted, I retorted: “Madam, I don’t have much hair but these are my own teeth.’’

    Winter well.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 22 November 2018