With big classes, attracting big names, it was members of the Pony Club who stole the show – and many hearts – at this year’s Royal Windsor.
The four-day horse show (9-13 May) hosted the popular Pony Club mounted games, as well as showjumping and the arena jumping phase of the tetrathlon.
The DAKS International Mounted Games saw teams from England, Northern Ireland, Wales, Republic of Ireland and Scotland battling it out for the coverted trophy. The final on Sunday was a real crowd pleaser with fast and furious games – and some fairly funny ones such as the Millk Race, where teams dressed up in cow costumes.
The Republic of Ireland was the well deserved winner. The team, trained by Chris Ahearne, comprised Peter McCarthy (Kildare Branch), Andrew Devitt (Laois Branch), Philip Wheldon (Meath Branch), Niall Hughes (Monaghan Branch), Darragh Kavanagh (Shillelagh Branch) and Molly Furlong (Shillelagh Branch).
In the tetrathlon, it was the Scots that were victorious – taking both the team and individual competions. Harris Ritchie (Eglinton Hunt Branch), Martin Smith (Berwickshire Hunt Branch) and Sally Mair (Deveron Branch) took team honours; while Martin Smith was also the individual winner.
In the individual showjumping competion, there were 32 Pony Club members from areas eight (east), 11 (south east) 12 (central) and 13 (south central). It turned out to be something of a family affair as Harriet Leader-White, riding Tollamore Girl took first place just ahead of her sister Georgina, riding Utah I. Both girls are from Thetford Chase branch (area eight).
The Pony Club finished their entertaining antics with the Friends of DAKS award, which recognises volunteers who have dedicated a lifetime of service to the Pony Club. This year’s deserving winner was Gina Kitchener, district commissioner of the Mid Surrey Branch, which she joined 50 years ago. Gina was instrumental in securing a permanent venue for the club's events at Walton on the Hill.
"I was absolutely delighted to win this prestigious award," Gina told H&C. "DAKS are a very generous sponsor of the Pony Club, which I consider the best all-round youth charity. I enjoy seeing young people develop their individual life skills as they learn to ride and care for their ponies and Mid Surrey is a great branch that caters for all abilities."