‘He’s a work of art’: star Connemara adds another worker title to his tally at the RIHS

  • The hugely popular Connemara pony Laburnum Richard delighted his owner, and his ringside fanclub, as he netted the NPS/Supreme Products mountain and moorland (M&M) working hunter pony title at the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) for the second time during his career.

    Laburnum Richard, who is known at home as Pedro, and his long-term owner/rider Amy Smith began their campaign by winning the first of the four M&M worker classes, the exceeding 143cms. There were a handful of clear rounds in this section, but as the heights of the ponies downsized, the clean scoresheets became more elusive. In the 122cm class, not one combination jumped clear.

    Amy and 16-year-old Pedro were heading to the RIHS with form; in May, they won the M&M worker accolade at Royal Windsor for the fourth time. Today also marked Pedro’s third Hickstead win in the exceeding 143cm class.

    “He’s won and been champion here before, and he’s also stood reserve,” explained Amy, who has been juggling Hickstead preparation in between wedding planning as she’s due to marry her fiancé John Canavan in exactly four weeks. The couple got engaged at last year’s Horse of the Year Show (HOYS). “Pedro is a work of art. He takes management and riding, and he has to live a very varied life. He doesn’t come out unless he needs to, but when he’s out at a big show he loves it. He thrives on occasions like this. Ever since we arrived here on Monday he’s been like a four-year-old; he loves the atmosphere.”

    “When I walked the course it seemed a lot more technical than in previous years and it was probably one of the best tests I’ve jumped here,” added Amy. “The clears seemed to dwindle away as the heights went down. The ground had to be taken into account. Those with more experience didn’t ride directly on the boggy ground but stuck to the outside of the fences to get a better shot. It rode very well, but it took a lot of thinking.”

    Amanda McHale judged the jump section of the classes, while Malcolm Fry was assessing conformation:

    “Our champion first came into the ring hours before the championship, but during his final performance he still had his ears pricked and he was up for the job,” Amanda said. “He jumped magnificently. He is so workman-like, and he sits up and looks through his bridle. He’s a proper native working hunter pony.”

    Gwerniago Gethin and Ashley Bird, reserve champions.

    Reserve was Ashley Bird riding his equally consistent Hickstead working hunter contender, the Welsh section D Gwerniago Gethin, who had netted the 143cm class. The bay stallion last won here in 2018, and he also has two HOYS wins to his name.

    You may also be interested in…

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...