Fairytale win for perfect filly
Horse & Hound|July 22, 2021
A coloured horse defies the formbook, a Connemara is supreme native and a novice working hunter displays ability and potential
TRICIA JOHNSON

Great Yorkshire, North Yorks

VICKY SMITH and Alan Marnie’s stunning mare, Ashleas Perfect Spirit (Polly), made history when she became the first coloured exhibit to qualify at this show for the Price Family Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) supreme in-hand final – and one of only a handful ever to earn the HOYS place.

It was well-deserved, though, as experienced judge Sarah York – a thoroughbred and hunter breeder – explained.

“Her correctness, limbs and the sheer quality of her movement decided it for me,” she said. “Also, she was beautifully turned out and extremely mannerly.”

Reserve went to Martyn Coles’ Welsh section D mare Durkar Solitaire, who had clocked up her fourth win – and third tricolour – from four outings this season.

Polly, a three-year-old by Free Spirit, sympathetically shown by Steven Lemon, was also champion at National Pony Society Area 5, Derbyshire Festival and Royal Windsor. Here, her floating trot captivated an enthusiastic TopSpec White Rose ring audience too, and when she was called forward after an agonising wait, the applause was deafening.

“Gobsmacked,” was Vicky’s verdict. “We only brought her to represent the breed; never in a million years did we expect this.”

The couple bought Polly unseen after being tipped off by Cathy Wood, who had seen a photo of the filly, then a yearling.

“She told me to get her bought,” said Cheshire-based Vicky. “I managed to persuade Ashley, her breeder, to sell her to me as my future ridden horse. Ashley lives in Thurso, so dropped Polly offat Knutsford services for me en route to HOYS and when she came off the lorry, I just thought ‘Wow’!

“She’s the most easy, laidback filly I’ve ever had and is a complete poppet at home.”

A GALLOP TO DIE FOR

A SERIES of masterclass gallops secured a fifth Great Yorkshire open hunter title for Jayne Ross, this time with the Baileys’ heavyweight Twinshock Warrior (Bernard), twice novice champion here in the past.

Torrential rain in preceding days had made the ground holding in parts, and some horses coped better than others. There was no denying the reigning HOYS supreme, though, who lowered, stretched and travelled the length of the grandstand as if on air – not only for Jayne, but also for ride judge Kirsty Aird.

“All his paces were fabulous, but that gallop was to die for,” said Kirsty. “I didn’t want to get off.”

Derbyshire-based Yvonne Bailey bought the multi-garlanded nine-year-old in March, following the sad loss of daughter Rose’s successful riding horse Jazz It Up.

“We’d gone to Jayne’s yard to look at something else, but fell in love with Bernard instead,” said Yvonne. “We’ve loved going to the big shows to follow him.”

Rose works as a lawyer in central London, but once a week makes an early-morning trip to Jayne’s Buckinghamshire yard to ride him.

“One big bonus of working from home at the moment is that I can jump out of the car and be at my desk in time to start work, without worrying that my colleagues can pick up my ‘scent’ from across the office,” she joked.

Reserve went to the lightweight victors, Rob Walker and Jill Day’s recent Lincoln champion Somerville Lad.

It was evident that some were clearly unaccustomed to such a large grass ring, and this was particularly so in novice ranks, where marathon classes greeted judges Sam de Caprio and Jane Graham and gave some lively performances.

Rob Walker claimed a fifth Archie Thomlinson novice trophy, this time with Jill Day’s in-form six-year-old MHS Morning Master, a former in-hand champion here and HOYS Cuddy winner.

Yorkshire rider Jane Collins beat the formbook, though, to head 16 heavyweights and stand reserve with her daughter Rebecca’s home-produced five-year-old, Dowdstown Purple (Quinn). This short-coupled, deep-bodied Irish Draught joined Jane from Barry and Jackie Marsh after Dublin in 2019, and this is his first season.

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