The National Pony Society/ Mole Valley Farmers Working Hunter Pony of the Year Championship on Friday afternoon at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) was full of home-produced winners.
Mollie Mae Jeffrey and her nine-year-old Connemara pony Woodfield Jovial Joker (Jack) rounded off their partnership together in absolute style, as they were crowned overall Champions after winning the 143cm section earlier today. An emotional Mollie had just one more chance to win, as next year she will be too old to compete in these classes with Jack who she calls her “best mate”.
After the Championship, Mollie said: “I never would have believed that in a million years, it’s a dream come true!”
The pair won the Thor Atkinson Steel Fabrications Ltd Mountain & Moorland Working Hunter Pony back in 2019 and today they have pulled off the double. Bought as a five-year-old novice, Jack has been completely home produced. With no arena at home, Mollie has been relying on hiring places to school him. “It’s been difficult, but so worth it,” she said. “Today has been amazing… He’s just the best pony who will do anything for you.”
Having finished ninth in the Working Hunter Horse of the Year Championship earlier in the week, Will Pittendrigh piloted his full Irish Draught, Silver Lough, to victory in the National Pony Society/Mole Valley Farmers Intermediate Working Hunter Pony section and then stood overall Reserve Champion. “This is the one thing he [Silver Lough] had not won yet… it’s a dream come true and he owes me nothing,” said an ecstatic Will who has owned the roan gelding since a four-year-old and brought him on himself.
Ahead of the Championship earlier, Will said: “I’ll try and keep him calm and then when we go up that long side I’ll give it my all… he loves to gallop!” That’s certainly what they did.
In the 153cm class Emily Jayne McPolin made the seven-hour trip from Northern Ireland, along with her mum, dad, and sister, for her and her Connemara pony Glenmore Miss Mirah’s first visit to HOYS. They had competed yesterday in the Thor Atkinson Steel Fabrications Ltd Mountain & Moorland Working Hunter Pony where they finished a very credible sixth and, with the rest of the family watching from home, landed the win today.
The nine-year-old roan mare looked as though she’d been coming to HOYS for years, taking everything in her stride. “She is a one in a million pony,” said Emily who has owned her for just two years. “The atmosphere is really intense and full on in there [the TopSpec Arena] but she was so chilled. She’s very honest and will do anything for you.”
It was another first HOYS win in the 133cm class for 11-year-old Florence Drewitt aboard her new pony Captain Foley, owned by Helen Drewitt. Despite only being together for one year the pair also won at Royal Windsor this year and are aiming for the Royal International next season. Florence rides the skewbald gelding every day and he is entirely home produced, also enjoying a bit of showjumping and arena eventing.
When it comes to home produced ponies the SEIB Search for a Star series is the one so many amateur riders aim to compete in. It offers a unique opportunity for amateur horses and riders to learn from the very best in the industry and for the showing world to find some HOYS stars of the future! The classes were judged by Jordan Cook, Katie Jerram-Hunnable and Chris Hunnable with full commentary, so that competitors and spectators can understand their thoughts during the class.
Overall Champion was the winner of the SEIB Search for a Star Show Hunter class, Lucy Hopkins riding her own seven-year-old grey gelding Chilly Breeze. The superb lightweight came over from Ireland as a five-year-old and Lucy was encouraged by friends to try him out. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d do this together,” she smiled.
“He’s grown a hand since we bought him,” said Lucy. “He’s beautiful to ride, so comfortable and he just laps up the atmosphere.” Lucy hopes to take him hunting this season and teach him to carry a side saddle in the future.
Katie Jerram-Hunnable said of the winner: “He absolutely shone and was our true out and out champion.”
Reserve went to the winner of the SEIB Search for a Star Traditional Cob class, Harriet Conlon riding her piebald Eye Candy II. Initially unsure how ‘Diesel’ would cope with the atmosphere, he soon put Harriet’s mind at rest. “He put a hoof in each corner and just pinged round,” she said after the class on Wednesday. Harriet was also keen to encourage others to give the series a go and was over the moon to finish her trip to HOYS as Reserve Champion. The pair now have their sights set on Open classes. The Show Cob class was won by Sarah Adams and Athlone Lad, a striking seven-year-old bay gelding.
Day two saw the SEIB Search for a Star Working Horse class won by Polly Baker and her 11-year-old gelding Latice. Polly has had Latice for three years and they hack out and hunt together. She entered the series for fun and what a journey they’ve both had! The Working Pony went to Julie Carter and her piebald gelding Senny Cymro. Julie bought him for showing but he loves to jump, so they might look at eventing in the future.
The red rosette in the SEIB Search for a Star Riding Horse class went to Jordan Meakins and Trenavey Dazzler owned by Sylvia Meakins, while the Hack winner was Molecule One, just a six-year-old owned and ridden by Bethany Phoenix.
The final Championship of the daytime performance was the Junior Mountain & Moorland Ridden Pony of the Year Championship sponsored by UK Ponies & Horses Ltd. This Championship is only in its fifth year here at HOYS and this year the Welsh Section A’s dominated with both ponies from the Small Breed class taking the spoils.
Champion was winner of the Small Breed class, Thomas Brash’s 12-year-old Chestnut gelding Wellbank Gabriel (Harry) ridden by Lexi Brash, who made a superb comeback after things didn’t quite go to plan in the Thor Atkinson Steel Fabrications Ltd Mountain & Moorland Working Hunter Pony yesterday. Previously Lexi’s sister Kyra’s pony, Harry was passed down to Lexi when she was just four years old for lead rein classes, so they have very much grown up together over the past few years.
“He’s amazing to ride,” said Lexi who had made the six and a half hour journey down from central Scotland with her family. “My favourite thing about him is his gallop.”
Another impressive Welsh Section A stood Reserve Champion; second-place Amilas Clicquot owned by Samantha Walker and ridden by Lily Walker. They have had Colin, as he is known at home, for just a year and had him gelded for Lily to compete in junior classes with him.
“He’s never felt like that before,” said a delighted Lily. “He was on springs in there!” His breeder, Salima Keswani, was also at the TopSpec Arena to watch. “He was always called ‘perfect Colin’ from a foal,” she said. “His grandfather also competed here at HOYS many years ago.”
The winner of the Large Breeds was Kirsty Faulkner’s Highland pony, Austin of Miltonglen, ridden by Harriet Drewery.
For more information on Horse of the Year Show 2021, please contact Horse of the Year Show Press Office, Grandstand Media Ltd. Tel: 02476 858205. Email: [email protected]