The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)
Ameranthus ‘owns ring’ at Royal Highland Show
Chance of HOYS qualification adds to excitement
The golden opportunity to secure coveted Horse of the Year Show qualifying tickets became the order of the weekend within the light horse rings at the Royal Highland courtesy of bustling flat and working hunter competitions.
“Owning the ring” to secure the overall Mountain and Moorland ridden championship from the eight HOYS qualifying classes yesterday was the Welsh section class leader Yswain Ameranthus.
Owned and ridden by Claire Evans, from Rotherham, this upstanding black gelding was on only his second outing of the season but has been a finalist in Birmingham on two previous occasions.
Following a prolonged delay to slot in with live television scheduling for the BBC’s Landward programme, he was drawn forward from judges Mrs Bigley and Mr James, Kathleen Scott and Elizabeth Rennie’s shortleet of four top ponies, which also included the leading Highland, Welsh section A and Fell ponies.
“He’s such a big strong horse, he really moved well, stood out in the championship go round, and produced a truly fabulous gallop,” the judges said.
“He really just came in and owned the ring.”
Giving much of the ringside cause for continued celebration, the judges took the winning Highland Pony, Dunedin Merlin, forward to stand as M&M reserve.
Owned, produced and shown by Lindsey Macdonald, a doctor from nearby Cromlix, since he was a foal, Dunedin Merlin is a firm favourite for the Ingliston crowd, having done the 2014 Royal Highland double – standing champion of the ridden Highland Pony section and leading his HOYS qualifier class at the show last year.
Backing up his ‘home turf’ success, Merlin progressed to Birmingham where he stood Horse of the Year Show Highland Pony champion.
He also made his side-saddle debut
this year at the ‘Highland’ earlier in the week.
“This Highland has a simply beautiful walk,” said the judges.
“He was another that really clinched his position in the championship by producing a fabulous gallop, and his success is clearly very popular both in and around the ring.”
With four Horse of the Year Show tickets on offer, the coloured horse and pony classes also provided a strong main ring spectacle.
Here, former Royal Highland winning Scottish jockey James Munro, from the University of the Highlands and Islands, Wick, took centre stage to judge conformation alongside the ride judge James Van Praagh, from Hartfield.
Manners were the top order for their championship winner – and as a result Millpond Looks The Business, piloted by youngster Kinvara Garner, took the top spoils.
“It really is a beautiful pony,” said Mr Munro.
“It really goes like a true child’s pony. It was mannerly, forward going and I have to say it was beautifully ridden throughout the day,” added Mr Van Praagh.
“The young jockey rode to perfection.”
Having won three of the four coloured classes, Robin Avery, from Preston, was a shoe-in for reserve.
Returning to HOYS following his native class win, the judges drew forward Valentines Boy to take the blue and white ribbons.
“The reserve was a real go goer,” commented Mr Munro.
“He produced a fluid show in his class, was active, forward going and has a fabulous gallop.
Mr Van Praagh added: “He performed like a true showman.”
During Saturday’s lengthy working hunter pony contest Victor IV proved victorious once again for the combined team of his owners Nancy and Caroline Orr, from Fife, and Aberdeenshire rider Holly Miller when he made it two wins in succession at the Highland.
Jumping a fluent round over Scottish course designer Graham Barclay’s clever track, Victor finished on a top score of 90.
This came courtesy of high marks for style and presence during his jumping, and manners during his individual show.
Judge Joyce Coltart said: “He really jumped a lovely round.”
Reflecting on the afternoon of competition, she added: “The classes were full of quality, and the ponies were jumping tremendously on the new surface.
“The course had plenty of questions but the riders came up with the answers.”
In taking his HOYS ticket, Victor became the second of the family’s horses to head to Birmingham this year – joining Nancy Orr’s Beseeka Red Hot Chilli Pepper, which collected a Cuddy HOYS ticket at Ingliston on Thursday.
Finishing beyond 10pm on Friday evening, the packed classes of Mountain and Moorland working hunter ponies provided HOYS qualification and a popular championship win for another Highland Pony – Dougal of Dykes.
Owned and ridden by Sarah Weston, from Lancashire, this nineyear-old stallion had already qualified for HOYS as a Mountain and Moorland on the flat at Midland Counties.
“This Highland Pony had real pony quality and he was very athletic with both his rhythm and jumping technique,” commented judge Barbara McGrath.
Fellow judge Heather Prescott added: “It jumped positive, balanced round.”