Held annually at the David Broome Event Centre, the Senior Winter League Finals attract hundreds of the country’s most competitive unaffiliated showjumpers for a three-day weekend of jumping and fun. Cricklands, as the unaffiliated side of the Welsh Show Centre is known, has nurtured the talent of countless riders through the ranks and into their bigger, affiliated shows; riders such as myself who first encountered the showground in 2009 and have been back several times in a wide range of competitions on multiple horses. When I was a junior rider on Marcus Aurelius (Aurelian x Fiesta Magica), our Crabbet Arabian performance stallion, I would often notice that there were very few Arabians and part-breds competing alongside us, and we would often attract a lot of attention for having the only Arab and the only stallion present. Thankfully, times have changed and, when I returned to ‘Broomes’ in April, I was overwhelmed by the domination of Arabian blood in some of the weekend’s top performers.
After a change of plans and Marcus being unable to go, read the latest blog from the Avonbrook Stud, we substituted him out for his part-bred Arab son, Avonbrook Odin (ex April), to contest the largest classes of the weekend, the 3’0 and the 3’3 open classes. Odin, who was homebred at my mother’s Avonbrook Stud in Worcestershire, has been performing well in British Showjumping 115cm classes (3’8) but was able to adjust to the fierce competition at Cricklands, where he was consistently placed and came home with one 3rd, one 6th, two 7th and one 8th, which was a fantastic and memorable experience.
Joining Odin in showing off the best of our breed was Lisa Broxup, who partnered the 26-year old Arab x Connemara mare Abracadabra, who was by Indian Royal, a son of the great Crabbet stallion Indian King (Oran x Indian Pride) in the 2’3 and 2’6 classes. Having stayed in the family for 23 years, this highly successful part-bred mare won a competitive 2’6 championship heat, as well as placing 2nd in a fast 2’3 championship heat. Abracadabra was backed by Lisa, who was aged 14 at the time, and has competed consistently and successfully with the whole family, including winning up to Pony Newcomers (1m/3’3) with British Showjumping with another family member in 2005.
Another part-bred Arab making waves in the weekend’s larger classes was Jupiter Moon, known as ‘Juke’, who jumped consistently in the 3’0 class and is ridden by Bethan Jenkins. Standing at 16.1hh at seven years old, this young part-bred appears to have a large future ahead of him and it will be fascinating to watch this four-year partnership go from strength to strength.
As well as the senior championships, junior riders flock from all over the country to compete at their age restricted finals and this included Sadie Davies and her mother Julie’s Equiloan Sunbeam (Midoak Mardi Gras x Pioneer Stud Moon Goddess). ‘Cinderella’, a 14-year old part-bred Arab mare, competed successfully in last year’s Junior Championships of Great Britain, picking up 6th, 7th and 8th places for her young rider. I have often thought that Arabs and part-breds make the most fantastic young rider’s horses, and it is most satisfying to be proven correct, in this case by this 32.53% Arabian mare and her young jockey. Young riders are the future and surely this combination will be another to watch with interest and support.
Another young rider with her part-bred Arab is Georgia Higgs and Sharloam Morning Salutation (Little Bill x Sharloam Bitter Sweet Gift). ‘Sharlo’ is a 14-year old mare who 18-year old Georgia shares with her twin sister. Sharlo has taken her riders from 2’0 to 3’0 courses in four years, despite her only standing at 14.1hh. At this year’s finals, the combination took home a 2nd, 4th, 5th, 7th and 9th place in the 2’3 and 2’6 pony classes. In the future, Georgia hopes to participate in team chasing and hunter trials classes and aims to continue up the showjumping heights as well as qualify for more showjumping championships. Sharlo’s damsire, Mandros (Silver Flame x Mimbles) can be traced back to Indian Magic (Raktha x Indian Crown), Oran (Riffal x Astrella), and Silver Gilt (Indian Gold x Silver Fire), all influential Crabbet names that are as clearly embedded in performance horses in practice as they suggest to be on paper.
Celebrating the successes of Arabians in open competition was Emma Hulbert Brown and her two purebred Arabs. 12-year old Silver Moon Flower (Pogojii x Magic Moon Flower) can trace her pedigree back to Silver Blue gilt through the tail female line, and has been competing at Cricklands for the past three years, picking up a 6th place in a fast speed class this year. ‘Weedy’, as she is known at home, enjoys cross-country and showjumping, and is often placed at her Cricklands appearances.
Emma’s other ride, six-year old Royal Crystal, also has a evident performance pedigree through both his pure Crabbet sire Grecian Idyll (Silvern Idyll x Grecian Guilt), bred by Caroline Sussex in 1997, and his dam Royal Blue Fantasy (Sun Crystal x Royal Blue Guilt) who traces back three times to Oran through Indian King. ‘Billy’ also has other influential Crabbet lines such as Dargee (Manasseh x Myola), Blue Domino (Rissalix x Niseyra), and Ludo (Blue Domino x Rithyana), who all appear twice. Billy made his Cricklands debut this April at the Cricklands Senior Winter League Finals and jumped some promising clear rounds, as well as showing talent and potential in the dressage arena. As he is shared with Emma’s 11-year old daughter, he is certainly an exciting prospect for the future, as both a performance and young rider’s horse!
Also showing talent between the dressage boards is Sarah Hannaford’s Izzy’s Star (Grecian Idyll x Magic Moon Flower), an 8-year old mare who is related to both of Emma Hulbert Brown’s Arabs. Bred at Widbrook Arabians, ‘Amarely’ was only backed last August and has since been placed in all five of her dressage tests, winning one of her classes with over 70%. This certainly is a talented family of Arabians!
Katherine Bertram is an English young rider who competes in a variety of different disciplines on her mother’s homebred pure and part-bred Arabians. Having achieved advanced rider status in Endurance after her first season at age 14 on Marcus Aurelius (Aurelian x Fiesta Magica), Katherine turned her attention to showjumping with his progeny, at which she currently competes at Senior Newcomers (1.10). As well as also delving into showing, eventing and, occasionally, dressage, Katherine juggles her studies while attending the University of Birmingham.