Emma Burrow had the perfect wedding and Christmas present combined when her Welsh Section D Dyffryngwy Sir Picasso was judged champion of the BSPS Ridden Mountain and Moorland Championship final sponsored by LeMieux.
The 26 ponies qualified for the final, representing all the native breeds – Shetland, Exmoor, Dartmoor, New Forests, Dales, Fell, Connemara, Highland and Welsh (Section A, B, C and D) – made a spectacular sight assembled in the Grand Hall of Olympia.
Emma (nee Boardman), a native pony producer from Carlisle who only got married a fortnight ago, bought Sir Picasso as a six-month-old foal from his breeder, Gwyneth Griffiths, who had travelled from Wales to watch.
Sir Picasso has swept the board this year, winning at HOYS, the RIHS, Royal Welsh and Royal Lancashire, qualifying at Westmoreland County Show where judge Tom Best told Emma: “Now go and win the big one.”
The bay gelding, third and best of breed at Olympia last year, is now an all-rounder, competing in working ponies, dressage and jumping.
Taking the reserve position was a fitting end to the showing career of the striking Highland stallion Melanie Stanford’s Benbreac of Croila, shown by Matthew Cooper. The 16-year-old grey obviously has a charming temperament, standing rock-still amid all the post-class hubbub back in the stables.
“He just loves coming to shows – it’s his favourite thing,” said Matthew, “and he’s the quietest pony at home.”
The final result was extremely close: the combined scores from conformation judges Helen Horsfall and John Harvey and performance judges Nigel Hollings and Nicola Turner added up to 177 for the winner and 176 to the reserve.