When Hallmark IX grew over the stick in 2011 and could no longer be shown as a lightweight cob, his then owner Rosemary Hetherington sold him to Heather Boden (now Clay). And what a superb buy he has proved to be — the 11-year-old chestnut gelding won this year’s Kellythorpe’s Moulin Rouge supreme ridden show horse at the North of England Horse Show (on July 4), bagging a cool £1,000 in the process.
Producer Simon Reynolds is effusive in his praise of the maxi cob: “This just goes to show how adaptable he is. Previously, he’s always gone for a swim the day before — at Orton Equine Swimming Centre — but we couldn’t this time because we’ve just moved house.
“In the past two years we’ve been swimming him, he’s not had his back checked — it seems to keep him right. He’s more supple and he enjoys it. We swim him quite hard, but his heart rate is incredible and his recovery rate is phenomenal.”
“He’s unique, a freak,” he continues. “If he were human, he’d be good at whatever he did. He’s so competitive, that’s what I love about him. When he walks into the ring, he rolls his sleeves up and gets down to business. He is arrogant and he walks in and says, I’m here. He makes you feel like a million dollars.”
Reynolds’s wife, Natalie, adds simply: “He’s a legend.”
Hallmark is certainly becoming a legend in his own lifetime. En route to the supreme at Arena UK, the pure-bred Irish Draught headed a massive class of 18 maxi cobs, which was also a HOYS qualifier. He has twice won the £1,500 supreme at the Great Yorkshire and stood supreme horse at HOYS in 2013.
Another HOYS winner landed the £1,000 Royal Angel supreme amateur ridden show horse. Henrietta Windsor-Phillips and Wesswood Caste A Spell won the intermediate small riding type at Birmingham in 2013, standing reserve. Here, they headed the amateur hacks before taking the top title.
“He has done everything I’ve ever wanted,” Windsor-Phillips said of 12-year-old Spell. “I’ve been third here before and have competed in the intermediates, amateurs and open sections. We’ve qualified for HOYS at Arena UK on numerous occasions, in the hacks and the intermediates.
“My dream was to go down the centre line in the spotlight at HOYS and Spell gave that to me.”
There was much ringside approval for the judges in this supreme, Janay Leeman and Frazer Atherden. They clearly knew their stuff, as they should: Leeman’s mother, Lisha, runs the successful Kellythorpe’s Stud — and sponsored the open ridden supreme here — and Atherden is a fully qualified farrier.
Image: Hallmark IX and Simon Reynolds, Real Time Imaging/Steve Dawe