A small but top-quality entry of ponies came from across the region to the National Pony Society (NPS) Silver Medal Show, which took place at Cholwell Equestrian Centre, near Lewdown, West Devon, on Sunday, April 27.
Many competitors were focused on fine-tuning their ponies for the fast-approaching agricultural shows, with the Devon County Show in three weeks’ time a major date in the showing calendar.
Connemara stallion Lucky Rebel retained his unbeaten British record, claiming the mountain and moorland championship in the hands of Sophie James, from St Agnes, Cornwall.
A former winner at the prestigious Connemara Pony Festival, held annually in Clifden, Co. Galway, the son of Currachmore Cashel was brought over from Ireland six months ago to establish his ridden career in the United Kingdom.
Sophie was delighted with eight-year-old Rebel’s performance, and earning her first in-hand silver medal rosette: “I’m going to Devon County so I just wanted to do a warm up, so I didn’t expect to go champion. He’s got a fantastic temperament and is the easiest horse I have on the yard by miles, everyone loves him.”
Following their win, the combination has now qualified for the annual NPS Summer Championships, which is held at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern, from August 5 – 7.
Emma Jane Devey, from Liskeard, came forward to stand as reserve champion with her Fell pony Tredellans Poppy. Emma also enjoyed a second place in the four years and over large breed class with her other Fell mare Shepparton Jilly-Em.
Judge Jane Upton, who travelled down from Bournemouth for the day, spoke highly of both her champion and reserve choices: “The champion was a really true to type Connemara. He had lovely bone with a beautiful pony head, and good movement.
“The Fell in reserve was another lovely pony, but the Connemara just had the edge for me”, added Mrs Upton. “I certainly wouldn’t say no to taking either of them home!”
Welsh Section C colt Aberath Syr Dewi was pulled in first to take the mountain and moorland large breed yearling class for Sue Smith, from Lewdown. Her second entry, in the form of three-year-old Welsh Section C colt Terrano Jazz, fell just short of the top honours, coming second in the two and three year-old large breed class.
Bernwode Benedict, owned and shown by Andrea Hill of Probus, Cornwall, lit up the arena to take the show hunter pony championship.
The 12-year-old stallion, grandson of the highly regarded Benedict of Piran, was previously based at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire, where he worked with stud course students and competed in affiliated dressage. Since October last year, ‘Becks’ has been at the Cowance Stud, near Probus.
Owner Andrea was “ecstatic” to receive the top honours on the day: “I’m absolutely thrilled to bits”, she said. “To come out for only the third time and take the silver medal, it’s just totally unexpected. He just loves the showing and the ‘pony parties’.”
Helen Chudleigh took the reserve hunter pony title behind her ‘lorry partner’ Andrea Hill with her own grey filly Cowance Spirit of Friendship. The two-year-old, by Andrea Hill’s Welsh Section D stallion Trevarth Conquest and out of a Sports Horse mare, currently has an unbeaten record this season.
Helen, who bought ‘Spirit’ from Andrea, said: “I saw her as a four-week-old foal in Andrea’s field and I fell in love! She is definitely a lifetime partner for me.”
The Goresmead and Bradmore Stud, based at North Perrott, Somerset, were on fine form and dominated the show pony classes. On their first visit to the venue, the family team, headed by Mike Coombes and joined by his daughter Clare Martin and her step-daughter India, won a haul of ribbons and claimed the champion and reserve champion positions on the day.
Yearling filly Goresmead Anna Karenina, by Westhill Quizical, claimed the championship whilst her half sister Goresmead Anastasia, by Ainsty Musical Dream, took the reserve position. Fellow family member Bradmore Tinkerbell, also by Ainsty Musical Dream, finished second in the four years and over class.
“It’s a team effort, we don’t take all the glory. It’s the farrier, the feed merchants, the haylage growers, we just couldn’t do without one another,” said Mike. “We never take all the gratitude, although we think we’ve got the best part of it!”
Cholwell Equestrian Centre’s own Whiteleaze Doulton came forward to win the four years and over show pony class, in the hands of 15-year-old Tabby Brightmore. The son of Cusop Dimension stands as part of the venue’s Puzzletree stud and show team.