Hood bows out with record ninth supreme title

Allister Hood and Our Cashel Blue ended their careers on the highest of highs today at the Prenetics Royal International Horse Show

HCP RIHS 04366

The curtain drew on the career of one of the country’s best showmen today, when Allister Hood announced his retirement at the Prenetics Royal International Horse Show.

The news came shortly after he won his ninth British Horse Society Supreme Ridden Horse title, extending his record for having the most wins in this historic class.  

His ninth and final victory came with prolific cob Our Cashel Blue, who had picked up his qualifying ticket in Tuesday’s Oyster Wealth Planning BSPA Skewbald & Piebald Indian Trail Ridden Championship. Our Cashel Blue was also retired after the victory, which saw him get three perfect 10s from the judges for a decisive win.

The cob, whose breeding was unknown, was bought from Ireland. “We knew when we first saw him, we had a future champion on our hands,” said Allister. “It took six months for us to find the key to him, but once we did I couldn’t have had a more faithful or willing partner ever. He loved the job, loved every minute. He deserves to go out on a high, and that’s what we’ve achieved – and where better than Hickstead,” Allister added.

It was the second Hickstead supreme title in a row for the pair, who won the same championship in 2019 at the most recent running of the Royal International. They had also clocked up three supreme cob titles at Hickstead, as well as going supreme at HOYS in 2016.

But while theirs was a story of countless triumphs, they also overcame adversity and bounced back to the very top, making them among the most popular partnerships on the show circuit. In 2018, the cob had treatment for a rare form of cancer and then had six months off to recover. During that time, Allister had a heart attack, though thankfully he made a full recovery.

Our Cashel Blue was owned by Lady Caroline Tyrell, but when she died last year at the age of 90 he was left to the Hood family. The 12-year-old will now live out his days at the Hoods’ yard in Norfolk where he will go hunting with Allister. “He hunts, goes on beach rides, and is generally adored by everyone at the yard,” he said.

The emotional retirement ceremony saw Blue have his saddle removed, and a laurel wreath was placed around his neck. Allister took off his showman’s red jacket and switched it to tweed, and was presented with a crystal decanter from Hickstead executive director Lizzie Bunn. The showman was given a guard of honour from fellow showing competitors as he left the International Arena for a final time.

“We’ve been so fortunate – we’ve had some wonderful horses and wonderful owners, and a lot of the clients we’ve had have been with us for many, many years. I think we’ve achieved some pretty good results for a lot of them,” added Allister, who plans to continue to ride at home while also concentrating more on teaching others.

If you'd like to watch the full class, click here

In reserve to Allister was Robert Walker with the Brereton Supreme Hack Champion, Parkgate Royal Visit William. It marked the end of a successful show for the Walkers, with wife Sarah also qualifying for the supreme when winning the Surrey Envelopes Supreme Cob Championship with the six-year-old Red Butler.

Yorkshire rider Mia Donaldson, 16, had a day to remember with two major wins in quick succession in Hickstead’s famous International Arena. First she lifted The Leeman Family BSPS Supreme Show Pony Championship with 128cm victor Wilderness Early Bird, then an hour later was riding off for overall honours in the Supreme Products Supreme Pony Championship with a score of 27. “She always performs a beautiful show, and I love riding her in the ring. She loves the gallop. She’s perfect,” said Mia.

For showing results, click here.

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