10 magical showing moments

We take a look back over some of the standout showing moments from the 2017 season 

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There’s just something about a win at the Longines Royal International Horse Show. As a championship show, everyone knows how hard it is to even qualify to compete here. Once a horse or pony has picked up their qualifying ticket, they have to make it to Hickstead at their peak, then put in a foot-perfect performance and dazzle the judges on the day. Then the very best of these equines go through to their division championship, and the crème de la crème will line up in Sunday’s British Horse Society Supreme Horse and the De La Hey Family Supreme Pony Championships.

We take a look back at 2017 and some of the special wins that took place here at Hickstead during last year’s show.

1 All hail the Hoods

The Hood team had an astounding show last summer, qualifying an impressive total of three horses for the BHS Supreme Horse Final. Norfolk-based producer Allister brought forward his Saracen Horse Feeds Supreme Riding Horse Champion, Diamonds Are Forever, and his Surrey Envelopes Supreme Cob victor, Our Cashel Blue; while his son Oliver also rode in the Championship with the Ridden Skewbald & Piebald champion Kellythorpes Master Key.

Qualifying three for the supreme championship is an achievement in itself, but Allister went on to win the title on Diamonds Are Forever with an impressive 28 marks out of 30, and finish reserve supreme with Our Cashel Blue on a score of 26. Meanwhile, Oliver was one of three riders in the Supreme to tie in third place with 22.

Allister has won the Winston Churchill Cup (the trophy given to the Supreme Horse victor) more than anyone else, with a total of seven championships to his name. We dare say he isn’t done yet, and with Oliver showing similar panache in the show ring, the Hood team looks set to shine at Hickstead for many years to come.

2 Leading the way

It’s harder to make an impact in a Supreme when you’re showing a pony on the lead rein and restricted to walk and trot, but that didn’t stop last year’s winners in the De La Hey Family Supreme Pony Championship. BSPS Supreme Mini Champion Seamoor Lady Derby earned a score of 27 in Sundays final to take the title, having been beautifully shown by producer Oliver Burchell and his five-year-old son James, who was making his Hickstead debut.

Not only did James impress the judges, he also entranced the crowd when he waved at the spectators during his individual show. It was the second time in a row the pony had won the Mini Championship, having won 12 months earlier with Poppy Steadman in the plate. Going on to take the Supreme Pony title, this time with young James riding, was more than proud father Oliver had ever dreamed of.

3 It’s Jayne again

Jayne Ross was aiming to win her third consecutive Supreme Horse title with the stunning hunter Time 2 Reflect, something that has never been achieved in the history of the Winston Churchill Cup at Hickstead. Sadly they didn’t quite manage a historic third win on the trot, but Jayne did set a new record at Hickstead by winning all three Hunter weight divisions in the same year. As well as her Lightweight Champion Time 2 Reflect, she won the Middleweights with Bloomfield Valhalla and the Heavyweights with Bloomfield Excelsior. An impressive feat, and something she has achieved twice at major shows in two seasons, having done the same thing back at Royal Windsor in 2016.

Jayne also came very close to adding both Saracen Horse Feeds Riding Horse sections too, winning the Small division with Casino and finishing second in the Large class with CSF Cummer Paradise, who was runner-up to the eventual Supreme Horse Champion Diamonds Are Forever.

4 A first championship

Jo Bates is one of the country’s leading show producers, so it’s a little surprising to discover that her win on board the Brereton Supreme Hack winner, Elusive, was her first tricolour here at the BHS Royal International Horse Show. Elusive’s owner, Suzanna Welby, describes him as the ‘most fabulous horse to ever walk the earth’.  Certainly the seven-year-old is making an impression on the show circuit, having added the Hickstead hack title to wins at HOYS and Royal Windsor.

5 Bouncing back

Tuesday of the BHS Royal International Horse Show is all about the skewbalds and piebalds, with hundreds of coloured horses and ponies contesting the various classes. The Team Colosso Supreme Skewbald and Piebald title went to Oliver Hood and Kellythorpes Master Key, but in the Amateur Championship a cob overcame adversity to take the honours.

William Pittendrigh has produced Constellation (known in the stable as Alf) since he was a four-year-old, having originally bought him from Ireland. In 2015, the pair qualified for the lightweight Working Hunter at the Royal International, when William was just 15 and Alf was seven. The following year, they qualified for Hickstead once again, but a week before the show disaster struck when Alf tore his collateral ligament over the last fence in a HOYS Intermediate WHP qualifier.

The prognosis wasn’t good and William was told it was unlikely the horse would ever be ridden again. But after six months of box rest he came sound, and a painstakingly-slow rehabilitation saw him return to work. Having been advised by showing producer Wayne Thorneycroft that Alf could do well as a cob, he was hogged – and he duly won the first coloured native/traditional/cob Royal International qualifier they contested. From there, the horse who’d been completely written off 12 months earlier went champion amateur at Hickstead.

6 Two in a row

In another of the hotly-contested Amateur classes, Samantha Coates and the lovely Riding Horse Bronte stood champion for the second year in a row. In reserve to them was Beware Chalk Pit, a former National Hunt racehorse who was no stranger to Hickstead success, having won the RoR Tattersalls Thoroughbred Show Horse Championship at the 2016 Hickstead Derby Meeting.

7 Another double

Another combination to win the same championship two years running were BSPS Supreme Show Pony victors Litton Enterprise and Phoebe Price. The pair, who stood Supreme in the De La Hey Supreme Pony Championship in 2016, retained their Supreme Show Pony title 12 months ago, though this time they had to settle for Reserve Supreme overall in Sunday’s final. 

8 Rise of the all-rounders

Several Hickstead champions from 2017 enjoy varied careers. Take the Show Hunter Pony champion Wolferlow Esperanto, for example – he’s competed in dressage and eventing before turning his hoof to the show ring, while Working Hunter Pony 2017 champions Matilda Lanni and Birkinbrook Arabella hunt and showjump in addition to doing workers.

9 Banks on it

Connemara stallion Banks Timber caught the eye when coming forward to the Supreme Pony final, having won the BSPS Heritage mountain and moorland ridden championship. It was owner and rider Sandra Burton’s first Hickstead win – and their first championship here too.

10 Third time lucky

Miniature Horse champion Spotlights Bo Diddly has won his class at the Royal International three times, but it wasn’t until his third win that he would go on to claim the overall honours in the BMHS Supreme Miniature horse final. The spotty stallion was 11 when he won the tricolour here in 2017, and he has been showing since he was a yearling. He’d won most of the major titles in his lengthy showing career but Hickstead’s championship had always eluded him – until last summer. For owner Alison Parsons, it was overwhelming to finally win. 

This article first appeared in July 2018

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