First day champions at Canterbury show

Maxwellton Penelope Pitstop, Penelope Johnson

The first day of the Canterbury Show at Christchurch was fine and sunny, although that easterly wind in the afternoon did make life a bit difficult for some.  There were plenty of champion sashes awarded, and some fine looking horses, ponies and handlers. The turnout of the judges was also to be commended!

The Supreme Champion In-hand exhibit went to Maxwellton Penelope Pitstop, shown by Penelope Johnson from Waimate. This is the fourth time the beautiful derivative Arabian has won this title and the mare certainly has a wonderful presence in the arena. Penelope puts it down to “Years and years of bloodlines. When I was 14, I won the Champion Pony here at this show on her great grandmother. We also stand the stallions.”

Graham Smith, the Australian judge for the Arab section, was very impressed with the mare. “The horse is exceptionally well balanced. She epitomises the Arabian type, she has a very pleasant outlook, a good length of rein. She moves freely and her legs and conformation are very correct.  I just loved the overall look.”

There were plenty of Australian judges at the show today.  One of them, Michael Baker, was judging the in-hand youngstock classes and awarded the championship to Arcoda’s Natural Honour, shown by Tania Boyd. “He is just lovely across the ground. He really wants to be here, and he is just beautiful. He will win a lot more classes than he loses, including when he goes on to the saddle classes,” Michael commented afterwards.

Tania Boyd, Arcoda’s Natural Honour with judge Michael Baker

Tania, from Rakaia, was very proud of her three-year-old Hanoverian/paint horse. “He’s a dun, not a buckskin,” she clarified. “I bred ‘Cairo’ and he is the only one we have by the paint stallion we had.”  In fact, it is a surprise to many that the young gelding is even here. “We scanned the 22-year-old mare [his dam] as empty and gave her to a friend. She contacted us to say the mare was getting fat, but I said that was normal. Then her husband rang her to say that there was a jersey calf in the paddock that must have got in from the neighbour’s dairy farm, but it was Cairo!”  Cairo is due now to get started and will come out under saddle in due course, doing some showing and dressage. “At 168 cm now, he can stop growing,” Tania said.

The judge with the best hat of the day was Lynda Hayes from Melbourne. Lynda has been busy judging the ‘fashion in the field’ at the Melbourne races recently but today was here to judge many classes, including the in-hand pony. This championship went to KS Queen Bee, owned by Sarah Cronin and Lizzie Bartram. Lynda thought that the pony had the best presentation in the ring. “She is soft across the grass, and is the best saddle prospect in the ring.”

KS Queen Bee, judge Lynda Hayes and Island Park Satin Raine

The Supreme Champion In-hand Pony was KS Helter Skelter, shown by Sarah Fitzgerald. Liz Pike from Timaru owns the young stallion she calls Skittle. “We don’t know whether we will keep him entire or not, we are currently debating that!” He will probably go on to do ridden classes, and possibly compete in shows in the North Island, with the Nationals and Horse of the Year definitely in their sights.

Sarah Fitzgerald, KS Helter Skelter

The in-hand standardbred championship went to a horse who now won the title three years in a row – Santo, owned by the De Filippi family. Santo was last year’s champion, and also two years ago. Mandy Hamilton, who showed the beautiful horse, said that while he had been the champion previously, this was his first show this season.  “He’s better when you don’t do too much with him. He’s been in for two months, he came in looking like a woolly mammoth.” He certainly changed that look for the show today.

The champion ridden standardbred went to Piece of Cake, ridden by Tamara Muirson and owned by Kristy King-Turner.  The pair were also reserve champion paced and mannered, with the champion ribbon going to Sweet William, ridden by Lauren Haig and owned by John and Liz Chappell. Liz was very emotional about the win with a horse who nearly didn’t make it as a foal: “He came out all wrong and couldn’t stand; we thought we were going to lose him.”

Liz has been involved with standardbreds since the 1980s. “We stuck with them. We love their nature!”  Since Sweet William has become mates with Pepper, the kune kune pig, Liz reckons his manners have improved a lot. “Pepper goes between his legs, is always under him, and they get on really well.” Pepper was not on hand to see his mate’s success.

Sweet William, with Lauren Haig

The Hewson family from Sterndale Valley, South Canterbury, won the Champion In-hand Part-bred Welsh pony with Greenlee Ladybird, who also won this title a few years ago. Jeff Hewson handled the mare, and had a busy time ahead with six horses, including foals, at the show.

Greenlee Ladybird

The Supreme Champion In-hand Welsh Pony was Sandy Mardell’s Trevellyn Fire Fly. Judge Barbara Bilskie, from Wairapapa, thought the pony was “magnificent!” She went on to describe him as having a great temperament, and very well-produced.  Vanessa Gibb travelled up from Fox Glacier to be the probationary judge and was really enjoying the experience with Barbara.

There were a good number of majestic Clydesdales in the in-hand classes. After awarding the Supreme Champion sash to Donnybrook Lana, judge Andrew Marriot from Victoria, Australia, described her as a “big, bulky active Clydesdale, who is very feminine.” Paul Power and Gaynor Siviter own the mare, with Paul doing the showing today. “She was bred by Fergus O’Connor who died just a few months ago aged 91. We call her Lana when she is going all right!” Lana is in work and will appear again at the show with a wagon in tow.

Donnybrook Lana, Paul Power

Champion Ridden Warmblood, for the second consecutive year, was Rosario Ringo Starr, owned by Allie Harper and ridden by Tyler McKee from Southland.  “He’s nice and easy to ride, I also do Level 3 dressage on him,” said Tyler. The pair are also the current Southland Level 3 champions.

The Royal Agricultural Society held a special International Youth In-hand Challenge today and it was a British rider who triumphed.  Gisborne legend Merran Hain was one of the judges and was last seen heading off to the races!

Merran Hain, finished judging, off to the races!

The show continues tomorrow and on Friday. We hope you enjoy our photos of the action.  These can be purchased from Pegasus Communications website in due course.