A Brilliant First Impression

Report by Beth Simons

Images supplied by Emmpix and Ellena Thomas

Miranda Hughes’ Towergate First Impression [Cracker] enjoyed a superb weekend of showing under Miranda’s daughter, Tabitha Hughes, 10, culminating in them taking the overall supreme championship. Tabitha and Cracker won the RIHS first ridden and mini championship en route to the supreme having already secured their Pretty Polly and open first ridden qualifications at BSPS Area 6 the previous day. Miranda has owned the 11-year-old section A for five years.  Last season, they enjoyed considerable success, finishing second and seventh in the Pretty Polly and open mountain and moorland first ridden classes respectively at the RIHS. They also stood mini supreme at the Heritage championships having won the cradle stakes. Nevertheless, Miranda explained that “Tabitha is desperate to get to HOYS on Cracker, but she doesn’t mind whether that’s as a first ridden or a junior working hunter!” Tabitha also hopes to compete successfully at the RIHS this year and hopes to step up to jump the open mountain and moorland working hunter pony tracks. “He’s her very special, favourite pony,” said Miranda, “she adores him”.

Show hunter pony lead rein, Greendown Ruby, delighted her connections when she took the Area Supreme Championship led by her owner Kate Unwin, and ridden by Kate’s daughter, Mary, 5. “We bought Ruby last June having responded to a comment on a Facebook post,” said Kate. Since purchasing Ruby, Mary has been having lessons with local producer, Lauren Brill. This is the home-produced team’s first season competing in affiliated classes. Kate said, “We did some local riding club showing last summer and had lots of fun and success, so we decided to try affiliated classes.” Living just seven minutes form Onley, they ventured to Area 6 to compete in their first affiliated show. Despite being unplaced, they were undeterred and returned the following day to Area 17’s show. “To our utter amazement after being pulled top, we finished second.” They later went on to win the ‘Best of the Best’ award and Area 17 supreme championship.

Winning the show hunter pony lead rein class was the uber consistent Thistledown Lawman [Max] under Harriet Walsh-White on their debut together. The pair were led by his producer of several seasons, Julie Templeton. The former BSPS supreme mini and HOYS finalist is now owned by Anna White and Sarah Walsh. Anna and Sarah bought the nine-year-old gelding last season with the intention that Harriet would take over the ride after Hattie Mustoe’s final ride on him at HOYS. Barrister, Anna explained that whilst she and Sarah have had many different kinds of horses over the years, they felt that producing a lead rein was “a specialist job”. She added, laughing, “Besides, the children listen to Julie; they don’t listen to us!” Last season, seven-year-old Harriet excelled herself to qualify both her show hunter pony lead rein, Littlebriars Horatio and her show pony lead rein, Chaseford Actor for HOYS within 48 hours. This season, as Harriet moves on to Max, her little sister, Matilda, 5, will take over Actor’s reins. Anna explained that it was also a special day for the family because as Harriet was making a successful debut in the ring, Sarah received her hunt buttons with the Holcombe Hunt.       

Reserve Area 17 supreme champion was awarded to Lilly Brennan and Carnsdale Tickled Pink [Floyd]. The pair were second in the 143cm working hunter pony class just missing out on their RIHS ticket. 13-year-old Floys was competed successfully by Ella Hayes and qualified for both HOYS and RIHS before joining Lilly’s team. The pair got off to a flying start together last season, jumping clear at HOYS to finish third. They have already qualified for the 2022 Burghley Gold Cup and have also won three consecutive BE events, finishing on their dressage scores with the best being a 21, Lilly explained. She added: “This season I am aiming for HOYS and the RIHS and I would love to do the BSPS Inter Country working hunter pony competition as I’ve never done the teams before”.

The 143cm working hunter pony class was won by Karen Raine’s Carrownurlaur Johnny ridden by Rebecca Raine. Johnny already had his mountain and moorland working hunter ticket at the NPS Autumn Festival and so will now be eligible to compete in both native and plaited working hunter pony sections.

Also having a superb weekend in the working hunter pony ring was Rachel Bailye Hawkins’ daughter, Beatrice and her 133cm Precious Gem. They won their RIHS qualifying class at both Area 6 and at Area 17 the following day, meaning that the ticket could be handed down to Costanza Villani’s second placed, Ellis Island D’Argann ridden by Isabella Owers. Beatrice and Precious Gem went on to be reserve champion working hunter pony behind the winners of the 153cm class, Ennis Boy ridden by Ellie Callwood.

Nieve Goldrick and Mr Oscar Cookson took the show hunter pony championship. Danielle Goldrick’s former RIHS and HOYS contender made a triumphant season debut to take the 153cm class en route to the championship. Oscar is produced by Lucy Glover, who also produced the section reserve champion, Dawn O’Donnell’s second placed 143cm Morning Sunflower, ridden by Isabella O’Donnell. Isabella was pipped to the class by Louise Caulfield’s Romanno Spot of Distinction, ridden by Charlotte Caulfield. Fortunately, Isabella had already secured her 143cm ticket the previous day at Area 6.

The show pony tricolour was awarded to Lola Carabine riding Jenny Harker’s winner of the 128cm show pony class, Ardenhall Blenheim. Jenny has owned the 13-year-old gelding for seven years. He was initially ridden by Jenny’s youngest daughter, Emma. The pair enjoyed tremendous success, including standing second at both HOYS and the RIHS. Jenny said that they “could never come to sell him,” and so it was decided that Lola Carabine should take over the reins from Emma. Last season was Lola’s first with him and the pair finished fourth at RIHS and third at HOYS. “He’s one of the most consistent 128cm ponies on the circuit and is an absolute showman. He’s your ideal 12.2 to take children from first ridden as he’s like clockwork; he always goes out and performs,” said Jenny. Reserve champion show pony was Hallie Kerry-Oates riding Charlotte Laurens’ winner of the 148cm show pony class, Bankswood Jacaranda. The remaining open show pony class, the 138cm, was won by Maria Rogers’ Wycroft Forget-Me-Not ridden by Ruby Rogers.

Lucinda – ‘Tuffy’ – Stockley was delighted to secure the RIHS mountain and moorland amateur qualification on her own Bracklinn Travis. The Fell gelding was initially produced for Tuffy through 2019 by Jill and Lucy Rushton when he was lightly shown as a stallion. “Last year we realised that he wasn’t happy being a stallion, so decided best thing for him was to be gelded,” explained Tuffy. “It was the best decision I have made; he’s a totally different pony who is now extremely loveable.” Tuffy had Travis at home with her over the winter and reassessed her initial plans to have him produced. “I had the best start with Jill and Lucy so very thankful for all the years I have been with them, but I was really sad with the idea of sending him back, so decided to keep him home”. This was Tuffy and Travis’ first show as a home-produced combination. Tuffy said: “I was extremely proud of Travis. It was my first time driving a trailer with a horse in it and it’s been a long time since I got a pony show ready on my own, so I was a little nervous, but Travis was a pro all day and didn’t let me down.” Travis has also been enjoying a little jumping over the winter which Tuffy intends to continue doing alongside some dressage to keep Travis’ mind active, as well as showing.

Quantity surveyor Ellena Thomas had an excellent day scooping two of the RIHS tickets on offer. She took the New Forest and Connemara qualification riding her mother, Karyn Thomas’ reigning New Forest of the Year, Hilltop Ned.  The nine-year-old stallion was purchased unbroken by the Thomas family from Rhiannon Randall in 2018. He was shown lightly in novice classes during 2019 before returning to the ring for open classes last year and belying his lack of milage by qualifying for the open, amateur and intermediate classes at the RIHS before going on to win at HOYS. Ellena later won the Welsh sections C and D qualifier with her mother’s section D stallion, Kaybrook Midnight Comet. The Trefaes Black Flyer 12-year-old is no stranger to success having competed at the RIHS, HOYS and the London International Horse Show multiple times and always impressing judges with his impeccable manners. “Comet just knows his job so well and always wants to please,” said Ellena.

Sarah Parker’s team also netted two of the RIHS mountain and moorland qualifiers on offer at Area 17 and bringing her team’s total number of tickets to nine so far. Sarah won the Welsh section A and B class with Tammy Heathcote’s charming Uphill Freddie Fox. It was Freddie’s second ticket in as many weeks as he won the junior small breeds mountain and moorland qualifier at the Mid Wales Winter Show under Tammy’s son, Harry. Freddie was purchased unseen in 2017 for Harry’s older sister, Chloe, and has had a glittering career with the Heathcotes, including mountain and moorland mini champion at the RIHS in 2018.  Harry took over the reins when Chloe was out of class and last year saw the pair collect the NPS Supreme Presidents Award and the BSPS Mini Supreme title. Ella Morris’ Tarbarl Luke at Me gave Sarah her second win of the day in the Highland, Fell and Dales class. He then went on to stand section champion under Rebecca Penny. 

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