Fourteen years ago, a young girl landed the prestigious ridden mountain and moorland championship at Olympia on a Welsh pony called Harwel Wizard. Today, that same girl — now a professional producer — did it again. Aged 27, Sam Roberts claimed the 2012 British Show Pony Society Heritage Mountain and Moorland Ridden Championship with Bronheulog Harvey.
And I couldn’t be more pleased.
I interviewed Sam almost three years ago when she was beginning to make her mark as a native pony producer. She had qualified a pony of every breed section at Horse of the Year Show, no mean achievement. She impressed me then with her dedication and determination — and her devotion to the ponies themselves. She wouldn’t take on too many ponies, she told me, because she wanted to ride all of them herself.
“People are paying me to ride their ponies,” she said seriously. “They’re not paying me to pay someone else to ride them.”
She has consistently qualified M&Ms for Olympia and has been close sometimes, but it was the Welsh section B this year who took her to the top. Harvey is not a flashy pony, but he moves beautifully and as a proper section B should. The two judges assessing performance, manners and way of going for breed type scored him 40 and 42 each out of 50.
Marking was interesting — only the performance marks awarded by Clare Dew and Barbara McGrath were flashed up on the screen so the audience could see who was impressing on their show without giving the game away. It made the championship a tense affair and the audience loved it.
It was something of a showing editor fail. I stuck my neck beforehand and earmarked two I thought would do well. My Connemara pick, Galloon Rollover, didn’t show himself at his best, which was a shame. He just lack a bit of sparkle. But I also tipped the Dales Waterside Black Prince, who finished third overall, behind another section B, Cadlan Valley Sandpiper. I was taken with the Shetland, Sharptor Laser Red, a bright chestnut whose little legs were going 19 to the dozen as he bustled along.
But the day belonged to Sam Roberts and Bronheulog Harvey. As a little bit of extra icing on the cake, the Connemara Banks Vanilla, also produced by Sam, finished sixth and best of breed.
I’m delighted, and judging by the “likes” — almost 300 as I write this — and comments on Sam’s Facebook page, so are a lot of other people. A popular victory then for a deserving young producer. Well done, Sam — and Merry Christmas.