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

Horse & Hound - - On The Cover - By SARAH RAD­FORD

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

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