Daily sessions of the DAKS Home International Mounted Games proved popular as ever with visitors to the show, who packed the spectacular Castle Arena to be entertained by teams from England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The England team put in some strong performances to dominate from the start, winning all but one session and coming joint 1st in another, but Sunday saw a fiercely fought final which thrilled the on-looking crowd with some nail-biting finishes which threatened the England lead.
Feeling the pressure of the double points on offer, and under the watchful eyes of Her Majesty The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, the England team won just one game leaving the competition wide open for Scotland and the Republic of Ireland who pulled out all the stops to win three and two games respectively, but it was England who eventually finished on 205 points to narrowly clinch the win; with Scotland finishing in 2nd place with 194 points and the Republic of Ireland coming 3rd on a score of 183.
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh presented the team of Danielle Olliffe (14, Poole and District), Charlie Yates (14, Oakley Hunt), Rosie Wheeler (14, Romney Marsh), Chloe Woodley (14, Warwickshire Hunt), Charlotte Wilson (14, North Herefordshire Hunt ) and Tillie Ball (13, Morpeth Hunt) with their trophy, rosettes and medals; chatting to them about their ponies and shaking each of their hands.
“I’m never washing my hand again,” giggled Chloe. “It was such an honour; he said ‘well done’ and was really interested in hearing about our ponies.”
The team, who were trained by Ian Mariner with assistance from Nicola Rogers, said the win felt ‘surreal and inspirational’ before giving thanks to their parents and trainers for all the support they received. They’re hoping their lucky mascot, a horseshoe they collected on a visit to a forge, will bring them luck for the Zone competitions in July where they would love to qualify for Horse of the Year Show with teammates from their Branches.
The DAKS Salver Award was presented by Mr Paul Dimond, Deputy Chairman of DAKS, to Norman Hudson in recognition of his work as a Volunteer with the Essex Hunt North Branch, during which time membership has quadrupled in size; much of it due to Norman’s incredible dedication and unstinting support.
Over 20 letters were received in support of Norman’s nomination, all describing him as irreplaceable and referring to him as ‘our amazing Norman.’
A devoted Volunteer, Norman’s knowledge makes him invaluable to The Pony Club, with one supporter commenting:
“Norman’s kindness and good humour, even in the most miserable of conditions, is exceptional. Any problem, logistical or practical Norman, will always have an answer; an answer invariably accompanied by a smile.”
Celebrations were in store for the delighted Central England team who retained their title in the Tetrathlon competition, held over Saturday and Sunday. The team comprised of Beaufort Hunt’s Tom Connors (14) who also took the individual top spot, Olivia Mahony (12, South Oxfordshire Hunt Central) who came 2nd individually and clinched the Best Shoot prize and Charlie Brown (14, Ludlow Hunt) who came 5th individually. The Wales and Borders team finished in 2nd place, and Northern England came 3rd.
Just seven of the 24 starters went clear to go into the Jump Off in The Pony Club Show Jumping competition, and it was a double celebration for the Enfield Chace Hunt as Members Nancy Cannon (17) and her horse Minty took the top spot with Katie Waldock-Smith (16) riding Milo to 2nd place. Hertfordshire Hunt’s Jasmin Gutsell (18) finished 3rd with Killuppaun Contador.