Driving Nigel Olliffe claims
A veteran pair find some extra steam to take the title for Nigel Olliffe on his fourth attempt at this championship
title on fourth attempt
NIGEL OLLIFFE and the large pony pair Fruit and Nut finally overturned Jemma Millman’s long-term dominance of the Osborne Refrigerators double harness scurry championship.
After beating Jemma and her reigning champions Piglet and Eeyore into second during Friday’s heat, the Dorset driver maintained his supremacy in the final, storming to victory by 0.18 of a second.
First-to-go Gareth Roberts with Darkhorse Fred and Barney set an early 42.25-second bar, which Jemma defeated by 0.45 of second when her experienced greys whipped round this comparatively open track.
But Nigel found some extra steam on the final galloping straight from his Welsh ponies, aged 25 and 17, snatching victory on what was his fourth attempt at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).
“It feels fantastic, we’ve been trying for a long time and they’ve been getting better and better every year,” said Nigel. “It’s very easy to have one or even two down in there but we did a good time yesterday, the ponies were great and I felt really confident going in.”
The 25-year-old roan gelding in left wheel — who is known as “Squirt” at home and is owned by Hayley Lawerence — has been driven by Nigel for nine years. He has more recently been paired with 17-year-old chestnut partbred Welsh mare “Dandy”, who belongs to Tarka Abraham.
“Hayley and her brothers used to compete Squirt in gymkhana and we did a bit of single driving with him and decided to try him in a pair,” Nigel explained. “Dandy also did a bit of everything and was driven as a single — they both belong to friends of ours and we decided to try them together as a pair and it turned out great.”
ATKINSON COLLECTS ANOTHER HOYS PRIZE
PAUL ATKINSON is no stranger to success at HOYS — he has, in the past, owned the winner of the ridden supreme, riding horse and ridden Arab. However, this was the first time he claimed a title as whip, when winning the harness horse and pony of the year championship.
Third here last year on his first season qualifying the 11-year-old Dutch warmblood Black Boy, he found himself once again in the showdown between the final three turnouts.
This time, the Norfolk-based breeder and producer was given the deciding nod from judges Gordon Marks and Caroline Douglas, with British Driving Society national champions Mandy Burdick and the partbred Welsh gelding Horsmans Momentum taking reserve.
The 2014 and 2015 champion Jessie Dudley-Apicella — who had produced three turnouts in the final nine — was called in third with her hackney pony Aghaderg Stand And Deliver.
“HOYS is everybody’s dream and I am so pleased with the way he performed,” said Paul.
“In the go-around at the end [for the final three] he just got better and better and it was probably the deciding factor — I could feel him rise off the ground and power upwards and forwards. He has had two full seasons showing now and he’s finally growing up.”
The lithe and elegant black gelding, who is sired by Nando, was sourced for Paul from the Netherlands by four-in-hand driver Wilf Bowman-Ripley. While Black Boy has taken several show championships, this was the first major title he has won.
Nigel Olliffe charges to victory with Fruit and Nut in the double harness scurry championship