An invitation to a birthday party led to a chance viewing of a filly, which ended up taking this season’s penultimate Cuddy ticket to the in-hand final at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS). Tipped off by producer Steve Pitt, Rosemary Penn saw Miss Velvet Brown at Tony Wareham’s 70th celebrations and was impressed by the youngster’s effortless movement.
“I was looking for an event horse and I remember thinking ‘that’s a real WFP [William Fox-Pitt] stamp’,” says Penn. “She was very gawky as a yearling, but one of the best walkers I had ever seen. I decided to leave her at home to grow, and never really had any plans for her until she was four and ready to back and bring on.”
Miss Velvet Brown is named for the heroine of the classic story National Velvet and was bred by Ann Bassett of Etheridge Farm Stud, who also bred her sire Aveia, by Roviris out of Aintree Oats. The filly is out of Kilmallock Lady, so is almost full Thoroughbred.
At two, in the spring of 2015, she was sent to the Warehams to produce in-hand. In just six outings, Velvet was champion hunter at Devon County, reserve at Royal Cornwall, sport horse winner at Royal Bath & West, sport horse champion at Stoneleigh, reserve sport horse and reserve champion hunter at the SHB (GB) National Supreme Championships and champion hunter at the BSHA finals.
She also won the Three Shows Challenge in 2015 for being the highest-placed horse from Devon County, Bath & West and Cornwall, and repeated the feat in 2016, when her other outings netted the hunter title at Kent County and hunter champion and sport horse reserve at the Royal Welsh.
For her final show in-hand, Velvet went to the SHB (GB) Championships last month where she stood champion hunter and champion female sport horse, which put her through to the Cuddy qualifier.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think she would win the coveted HOYS ticket, especially as she was up against all the top hunters and sport horses in the country,” admits Penn. “So doubtful was I that I was heading to my car for the long journey back to Cornwall when I heard Velvet’s name called out as supreme!”
Velvet’s future has not yet been decided, as Penn says she is waiting to see what happens at HOYS. “She might have a year of ridden showing, be prepared for eventing or have a foal at the beginning of her career. I have seen a love story develop between Tony and Velvet and I know he would like to be involved with her future.
“Velvet has this wonderfully calm temperament, always looking to please and a joy to be around,” adds Penn. “She will be wrapped in velvet until after her last performance and I know there are many friends rooting for her. Whatever she achieves at HOYS, she could go on to do anything, as Henrietta Knight said when she made her champion sport horse at Devon County this year.”