British Show Horse Association (BSHA) National Championships, Arena UK, Lincs
ANOTHER outstanding “showman’s show” from producer Jordan Cook, this time aboard Dena King’s first-season maxi cob champion, Pattern Master (Bruce), landed the second day’s McCourt overall supreme title. This gave Jordan a third bask in the Arena UK supreme spotlight this season – having triumphed at the Coloured Horse and Pony (CHAPS) championships and the UK Nationals on other rides – but it was blue and white Bruce’s launchpad to stardom.
Last of the seven champions to perform, Jordan gave a masterclass demonstration, keeping his show short, sweet, mannerly and uncomplicated, playing to this grand cob’s undoubted strengths.
The electric atmosphere raised Bruce’s game; two final go-for bust gallops were worthy of any top-class hunter and the obedient, soft return to trot, walk and final halt would not have disgraced a hack. A final score of 29/30 was a fitting reward.
Judge Pearl Underwood, who officiated alongside British Show Pony Society (BSPS) chair Pat Pattinson and in-hand specialist Mark Tamplin, had no hesitation in holding up a 10, swiftly followed by a 10 from Mark and a nine from Pat.
“This was showmanship at its very best,” said Pearl. “We were privileged to have such lovely animals before us, too.”
Mark, himself a consummate showman, concurred.
“This partnership ticked all the boxes,” he declared. “It captured the attention and held it right to the end.”
This had already been a momentous year for amateur one-horse owner and former competitor Dena, who – along with her parents, Allen and Jean – has been deeply involved in showing for many years. Next month, she will be taking her family’s first-ever seat in the owners’ stand at Birmingham as Bruce is through to both maxi and coloured horse finals with Jordan.
Dena bought Bruce as a four-year-old in October 2018 after seeing a post on Facebook.
“I’d made up my mind that I wanted something for myself after years of helping others,” she said.
“It was a case of being in the right place at the right time, and I was the first to see him. I just saw him loose in the manège; I bought him on the spot.”
Until this year, due to Covid, Bruce’s education had been confined to hacking, forest rides and a range of riding club activities, and although he has done comparatively few shows, he qualified for – and was third in – the maxis at Hickstead.
“He gives a soft, comfortable ride – it’s like sitting in an armchair,” said Jordan. “He’s forward of the leg but soft in the hand and tonight, I felt I could have asked him to do anything.”
STARS ON THE RISE
RESERVE crowned a successful weekend for Justine ArmstrongSmall. Already working show horse champion and first reserve Leeman supreme on day one with Heidi Golding’s Kilruane Diamond – who claimed his small hunter ticket here, too – her opening-draw McCourt performance aboard Jane O’Keeffe’s Classic small riding horse victor and HOYS section champion, Rosemore Midnight Rendezvous, was only three marks adrift.
This handsome seven-year-old was bought three years ago for Jane’s daughter Sophie to compete in intermediates and Justine to campaign as a riding horse. Here, he also earned his intermediate ticket piloted by Will Morton.
Rising Star champions Reise Shakespeare and Vicki Rudd’s inform small hack, Shildons Plan B, continued their triumphant run to stand first reserve.
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