Wonderful Windsor…

There really is no other show like Windsor with its magical castle back drop and royal aura.

Still, as I drove down, I wondered if I was mad to be taking seven horses to a show in a lorry that takes some towing on! But Nick Brookes Ward and his team put in a phenomenal amount of work to keep the show on the road; the chief stewards were up at 5am greeting competitors on arrival at the gate.

Personally, we had an amazing show with a championship, a reserve, two wins and three seconds. I can safely say that the profits in the Pol Roger champagne bar will have been at an all-time high with our celebrations!

Classes were well supported and of good quality. It’s always interesting to see northern and southern competitors and showing’s ‘big guns’ go head-to-head for the first time in the year.

I bumped into prolific hunter owner Jill Day on the horse-walk early on the Friday morning and mentioned how her hunter MHS Morning Master was the pick of the collecting ring for me when I watched the hunters working in. How amazing for Rob Walker’s hardworking groom Aimee Stunt to be handed the reins for the championship and eventually take the tricolour on him!

Another talented groom is Team Ross’ Olivia Minihane, who worked tirelessly all week and was a well-deserved working hunter champion after a foot perfect round on her own Verve Cliqout. I think we can safely say showing is in safe hands with this sort of talent coming to the fore.

On the Sunday, I had a relaxing day and enjoyed watching some of the pony classes. To produce these ponies safely for their small jockeys to enjoy in the ring is no mean feat. Stand outs for me were the team Jinks’ lead rein hunter pony and mini champion Newoak Midnight Blue who shone with his ears pricked from the moment he went in the ring. He’s a true mini-middleweight with substance – I later found he won HOYS last season and I think he’s one to follow again this year.

The Pretty Polly classes were also of high standard, and I watched the beautifully presented Peerless, owned by Victoria Bywater and ridden by Lucille Bywater take the tricolour. This combination looked very established and put on a masterly performance in the championship.

Well done Windsor for hosting these classes. The amateur and home-produced classes are so important and to give these competitors such opportunities is key.

Amy Smith was mountain and moorland working hunter champion on Laburnam Richard, or Pedro. This pair have been champion here before. In fact, I believe it was his fourth championship at Windsor! What a credit to Amy to see an older pony still sound happy and enjoying his job. To have these horses fit and well is no mean feat, but to be successful over a 10 year period is seriously impressive.

The final championship of the day was the wonderful Forgeland Hyde Park ridden by his owner Isobel Mears in the intermediates. It was his second championship of the show. For me, he is one of the most outstanding horses of recent times and he looked better that ever, all credit to producer Danielle Heath. I think he’s a horse we would all love to have in our stable!

Overall, judging from the standard set at Windsor, the competition will certainly be hot this season once again. With just 10 weeks to go, it will be exciting to see if Windsor’s major players will commandeer the next big stage: RIHS. Or, are Hickstead’s stars still waiting in the wings? The final RIHS qualifiers as well as the first clutch of HOYS classes will surely make insightful watching.

Best of luck everyone!

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