ABOUT THE COMPETITION
The WPCS Performance Competition was first run in the early 1970's as a way of recognising the versatility of the welsh ponies, cobs and partbreds. It is a competition that is run annually, culminating in the Awards Ceremony held in Cheltenham. All equine disciplines are recognised from showing, dressage, showjumping, eventing, driving, pony racing or endurance. There is no age limit, so whether it is a 3 year old child competing on the leading rein or a 75 year old participating in Endurance Riding - all are welcomed. Points are collected throughout the year dependant on placing at both affiliated and unaffiliated competitions.
It is a competition that particularly nurtures the younger generation. The Welsh Pony & Cob Society, together with long time supporter Mrs Sarah Page ( Floreat Stud), bursaries are awarded to deserving WPCS members at the Awards Ceremony, and very often the recipients are seen to flourish in the years thereafter.
Not only is the competition one that is enjoyed by competitors up and down the country, it is a vital shop window for breeders. We have a breeders league, so the more ponies that participate in the competition the greater the number of points for the Stud!
In addition to the individual competition, if you are a member of a Welsh Association, e.g South Eastern WPCA, South Western WPCA, Glamorgan WPCA, Ceredigion WPCA, Carmarthenshire WPCA, Midland WPCA etc. a team is put together of the 4 sections and a partbred with 4 scores to count. A fantastic cash prize is awarded for the winning Area. The monies won are to be put specifically into something that will benefit their members in terms of performance, e.g. training, jumps or equipment.
The competition this year will run from 12th March 2022 - 20th December 2022 inclusive.
2019 JOURNAL REPORT
Every year when I compile the results for the WPCS National Performance Awards I am amazed at the versatility of the ponies and the talent that we have in our young riders. These awards are a great opportunity to celebrate the strength in depth that we have across all disciplines with our ponies, cobs and partbreds too.
This competition would not be possible without its generous sponsors. My very grateful thanks go to the Welsh Pony & Cob Society, Brightwells Auctioneers, Llanarth and Langarth Studs, Floreat, Kemysfawr, Boreton & Betton, Amilas and Digswell Studs, all of whom contribute to make it such a worthy and prestigious competition. In addition, the sterling support of Jane Weller, Stoatleytwo Stud and Sue and Janet Hardy from the South Western Welsh Pony & Cob Association. The contribution from Jane, Sue and Janet means that we can focus on ensuring that the competition continues to grow and enables us to have a platform to really promote all that is great about the Welsh Ponies, Cobs and Partbreds that we are so passionate about.
One of the most rewarding parts of running this competition is to focus on the young riders. I am delighted to see that this year both the Supreme Overall Champion, Bella Wild riding Thornberry Minuet and the Reserve Supreme Champion, Ollie White riding Llanarth Towyn are both previous bursary winners. The fact that both these children have produced these ponies up through the levels in the disciplines of show jumping and WHP respectively, I think is testament to their dedication, drive and talent.
The winners this year are great examples of the exceptional temperaments and natural ability of the Welsh breed to perform. The Section A Winner – Lledrith Nemesis is a young stallion starting out in his ridden career whilst combining this with stallion duties too. Nemesis expertly piloted by Sam Roberts has excelled in the dressage Arena, qualifying for the NPS Dressage Finals. Nemesis enjoys his jumping too, having qualified for RIHS and HOYS as a WHP. To add to this already impressive CV, they qualified for HOYS and Olympia on the flat, culminating in the Best of Breed at Olympia.
The Section B Champion Thornberry Minuet, bred by Fiona Leadbitter, ridden by Bella Wild has had an outstanding season. “Minnie” jumped 73 BSJA rounds out of which 53 double clears, 30 outright wins, nine equal 1sts, seven 2nds, five 3rds and numerous placings. Together they won a class of 88 at the National Academy show against 148cms ponies and were top 5 at Trailblazers each day. Bella and Minnie qualified twice for the National Championships and won the Pony Bronze League in Wales 128cms section and the overall title. This is an amazing achievement, as this is their first year competing in affiliated show jumping competitions whilst still in Novice Points. We wish them every success for the 2020 season.
Not only did Bella win the Section B’s she won the Section C’s too on Cefyn Sweetlife. Together they are the current BSJA 11 and Under Champions, after they won an 11 way jump off and consequently made their first appearance in Horse & Hound! “Sweetie” as she is known at home, won the bronze league 138cms section and qualified for 3 classes at Nationals, representing Wales in the Bronze League, British Novice Final and Stepping Stones.
Wilfholmes Daily Express ridden by Shelley Finlan won the Welsh Section D section. As always, this is one of the most hotly contested sections and “versatility” is certainly the forte of this pair. Whilst amassing a total of 5005 show jumping points, qualifying for the BS Championships at Stoneleigh and the BRC National Championships, they excelled in dressage, combined training and one day events. I understand that this cob is a real gentleman and is ridden by every member of the family!
The Small Part Bred winner has now won this for the second year running, a real achievement! Frosthill Jackaroo, bred in the South East by John Hobden and ridden by Kizzie Lucas from Pembrokeshire, have proven that they are not just a pretty pair to look at! They swept the board at the WPCS Performance Show, winning the WHP, Hunter Trials, Show Jumping and Dressage classes. Together they qualified for HOYS at Three Counties Show and won the SHP class at Devon County to name a couple of their showing achievements. They won their Preliminary Dressage Section at NPS Dressage Championships and the Novice Class at Quest National Finals too. It is always testament to a pony’s temperament when they can excel in several disciplines. It is with these results in mind and also knowing that Kizzie is such a keen and dedicated rider that she has been chosen for a WPCS Bursary Award.
The Large Part Bred winner, Menai Laurence ridden by Gabby Macdonald and bred by Peter Jones from Menai Stud wins this section for the second year in a row too. This very attractive bay gelding by Lauriston is aimed primarily at eventing. They took part in numerous BE events during 2019, with success at Warwick Hall, Ascot Under Wychwood, Stafford and Skipton with qualification for Badminton BE90 Grassroots. In addition, they take part in affiliated dressage with consistent results. We look forward to watching this pairs progress in 2020.
It would be lovely if we could encourage more driving competitors, each year we get quality ponies forward but we need to see more entrants in this competition. The overall Driving Champion this year – Mac Humphries, driving the attractive section B mare, Pennwood Whisper. It is so lovely to see Mac with another driving star, having had the wonderful Bushmere Tolomeo in harness for many years.
The dressage sections are full of talented combinations, and this year is no exception, . The Junior Winner – Fi Grabham, age 11, has already had her photograph on the front cover of the British Dressage Magazine! This year with her partner Waxwing Pocket Money, bred in Scotland by Tom Best and David Blair, they have often given the Warmbloods a run for their money! Fi and “Chip” as he is known, has been produced from scratch by Fi, with the help of mum Pippa Drewe and trainers Leanne Wall and Melissa Beer. In addition to winning her class at the NPS Dressage Championships and qualifying for the PC National Championships, this year they have qualified for regional and national championships with success. I have no doubt that Fi is a star of the future as she is a true perfectionist, with a gift of getting the best from her ponies. A coveted WPCS Bursary Award is awarded to Fi and we look forward to watching her progress in 2020.
The Senior Dressage winner and taking home the Okedon cup is Ailsa Duff riding her own homebred mare, Digswell Honeycomb. Ailsa is the very generous sponsor of this section together with Sal Keswani of the Amilas Stud. I’m sure Ailsa wouldn’t mind me saying that this is the 23rd year in a row she has taken part in this competition.
There has been a demand over the last couple of years to include a “Senior” section for the 50 years and over riders. This is always a closely fought out battle, and this year’s winner is Jan Howells and the very versatile partbred, Longhope Millicent Two Socks.
Each year, Tracy Hook from the Kemysfawr Stud, sponsors the Stud Prefix Award. This is for the studs with two or more entrants in the competition. It is a great way to recognise those studs that put “performance” top of their breeding criteria, and this year the Llanarth Stud takes the 1st prize, 2nd place to Amilas Stud and 3rd place going to Milford Stud.
The 2018 Supreme Champion, Ollie White, riding Llanarth Gold Label, had to be content with taking Reserve Supreme Champion this year on the young Section B gelding, Llanarth Towyn. Ollie has done all the work with Towyn himself; he has taken time, and been patient, and now the results speak for themselves. Throughout the season he has progressed from winning Novice WHP classes, to taking the National Welsh WHP Championship and culminating in winning the Novice WHP Championship at BSPS Heritage Champs. We look forward to seeing Ollie out on his new Llanarth cob. Inevitably, as children grow, new ponies have to be found and let’s hope it is another Llanarth star in the making!
The final WPCS Bursary winner, Harry Edwards-Brady, this year riding Gryngallt Page Too, has had an exceptional year, qualifying for RIHS and winning at HOYS. Harry is a natural showman going from the Lead Rein and First Ridden ranks, to holding his own in open company. Like the other recipients of these bursaries, we have no doubt that young Harry is destined for great things.
Sarah Page, from Floreat Stud in Surrey, is a long-standing supporter of this competition. Her emphasis in her own breeding programme is to breed ponies and cobs that “can do a job”. Her wealth of knowledge and support to me is invaluable. The Floreat bursaries are awarded each year to children under 10 that have demonstrated that they have something a “little special”. These awards are generally awarded for children that excel outside “flat” showing. Last year Bella Wild was one of the recipients, and I remember vividly someone describing her as “small but mighty” – how right they were, and just look at what she has achieved this year on three different ponies!
The first recipient of the Floreat Bursary is Ila Wingrove – age 8, riding Milford Fair Honeybee. I first saw Ila at HOYs competing in the not exceeding 133cms native WHP class, she rode with a maturity far beyond her years! It was flawless, both pony and child in absolute harmony, jumping a track that many others had found challenging. It was no surprise to see her win the class giving the most delightful “live” interview to the commentator that had most of the audience in tears!
The second Floreat Bursary Award winner is Millie Neath (age 9) riding Llafar Tia. Millie and Tia have amassed 2810 points this season in WHP. The highlight was to win the Cradle Stakes Final at the NPS Championships. In addition, they have competed in the Schools Arena Eventing and Show jumping classes with success and these are enormous classes to win! Like her sister Gia, we are certain that Millie has a bright future with her welsh ponies.
The Green Harbour Trophy, together with a cheque for £500 is awarded to the winning Area Association Team. The money is to be used exclusively for the purpose of performance, either in the form of training or equipment. This year it is awarded to the Clwyd A Team, managed by Beccy Worrall, with a thumping grand total of 18,955 points! The Team consists of Townbent Emerald ridden by Megan Evans, Thornberry Minuet ridden by Bella Wild, Cefyn Sweetlife ridden by Bella Wild, Plasglanrafon Llinos Ebrill ridden by Charlotte Fear and Rowan Prince ridden by Teleri Edwards, the top 4 scores to count.
The “special” awards have a wonderful history in this competition, this year each one of the winners are very deserving. The Vale Encouragement Award goes to Maisie Mountain and Kered Stormchaser. This partnership won the First Ridden section in their first season off the leading rein, and I am sure in 2020 many more successes will be forthcoming.
The Cwmllanwenarth Cup for 12.2hh and under driving is presented to Cosford Iziwotnot driven by Kate Cooper. They have had enormous success in Private Driving classes, their turnout is an absolute picture and they have had wins at major county shows up and down the country including Suffolk, Royal Norfolk and New Forest. Kate also drives another Welsh Section A Trindod Wildcat, and this year she has had the honour of being presented to Her Majesty The Queen.
Brightwells, one of our generous sponsors, present their trophy to the pony purchased at their sales with the highest points gained in the competition. This year’s winner is Cwmtynant Cardigan Bay, a welsh section D purchased in 2012 owned by Katie Mercer and ridden by Molly Mercer.
Versatility is always recognised in these awards, and it is always encouraging to see that one day these ponies can be winning at the Royal International, the next week they can be found at Pony Club Camp, in the autumn competing in Hunter Trials and anything in between is taken up in affiliated show jumping! It is important to recognise this, and the Late Kathleen James gave the Highland Stud Trophy in recognition and this is presented to the Junior winner - this year, Llanarth Towyn and Ollie White were the worthy recipients and the Senior winner picking up the Scole Salver - Dyffryngwy Siwan and Rachel Davies.
Each year we celebrate an overseas success. This year the inaugural running of the Australian Welsh & Welsh Part Bred Ridden National Finals was held in Sydney International Equestrian Centre prior to the 20th International Welsh Show. The standard and quality of the ponies’ forward was impressive. The overall Supreme Champion and recipient of the 5000 Australian dollar prize was the charming 10-year-old mare, Cherrington Skylark. Owned by the Howe family, bred by John While of the Cherrington Stud and ridden by Molly Faran. This beautiful, true to type mare oozed feminine quality from the moment she graced the ring. Her free flowing, balanced paces whilst being ridden in a snaffle bridle by a child she ticked every box for what the judges were looking for. This was only the 4th show that this mare had ever attended but we are certain that she has a very bright future ahead of her.
The last two awards are for outstanding achievement. The Fontmell Stud Trophy is awarded to Browbank Jacob Black and Caitlin Clancy. Jacob and Caitlin have been together for over 6 years, they have competed in numerous disciplines, including show jumping, BE One Day Eventing, HOYS WHP classes and ridden Showing. He is a true ambassador of his breed, being awarded WPCS Reserve Supreme National Performance Champion in 2017 and 2018. Dressage is the discipline that they have really excelled, in 2019 in his first year of doing Pony FEI, this home produced pony has competed internationally both abroad (Luxembourg) and at home where he claimed a 4th and 6th in the Pony Team and Pony Individual classes at Hickstead with two 67% + scores. In his three Premier Leagues in 2019 he claimed top 3 and top 6 placings every time out and at other venues, including Keysoe and Hartpury, has scored 69% plus.
Other notable achievements in 2019 include being one of only 12 BD Youth combinations selected nationally, for the first ever Lottery funded BD National Academy. They gained a 3rd place in the Pet Plan Area Festival U21 Medium Championship Final. They have represented England at BD Youth Home International 2 years running and were on the winning team in 2018.
If this doesn’t inspire other young riders, I’m not sure what will, it proves that you don’t need to be on an expensive warmblood in dressage to make a mark as a rider and achieve success!
The Rookery Trophy for outstanding achievement, this year is awarded to Mandy Burchell Small from the Rowfantina Stud in Sussex. Mandy needs no introduction as she is a regular figure at shows either donning her Leading Rein outfit or watching her ponies in the ring often beautifully produced by her son Oliver. Mandy’s mother Mrs Jean Shemilt was a true horsewoman and she managed the Rowfant Stud in Sussex from 1959, she achieved enormous success and subsequently set up the Rowfantina Stud of Welsh Ponies.
In 1979 Jean emigrated to America taking a good number of the ponies with her. Much to Mandy’s delight in 1999 Jean returned home to the UK, bringing a number of the US bred ponies with her. One very special mare that returned was Rowfantina Old Fashioned, by Coed Coch Pernod and with Coed Coch Bari on both sides of her pedigree. “Fatty” as she was known at home was broken to ride at the age of 9 and the following year, she won the HOYS Leading Rein Final and being crowned the 2000 HOYS Mini Supreme Champion. What a thrill for the family as this was a homebred pony led by Mandy and ridden by son Owen.
Following on from her mother, Mandy’s emphasis on breeding ponies has been to have ponies true to type, with excellent temperaments and free movement. Her early inspiration came from renowned breeders, Ann Lumsden from the Mountain Stud, Alison Mountain, Twyford Stud, and of course, her own mother Jean. Ann’s emphasis was to breed ponies that were correct and filled the eye, and performed, Alison’s on pedigrees and family lines and Jean’s, quality, looks and performance. There is no doubt that Mandy has reaped the benefits of the experience gained by such luminaries of the breed. Mandy has been very selective in her own breeding programme too, often having no more than 4 foals born each year. However, the lack of quantity has certainly not impacted on the quality, as there have been over 20 Rowfantina ponies taking top honours at Hoys, not just in the pure-bred sections but in Show Hunter Pony and Riding Pony classes too. Over the years the successes both with Rowfantina ponies and ones that have been brought into the stud are too numerous to mention. Suffice to say that there are not many championships that they have not won. I am sure that the legacy of the Rowfantina ponies will influence the breed for years to come.
It is a wonderful opportunity to be able to recognise the importance of the “breeder” in this Performance Competition, as without them there would be no talented ponies to ride or drive!
I am extremely grateful to all the competitors for your continued support of this competition. Your understanding at my lack of computer savvy and my hopeless organisational skills! Each year it is lovely to see the ongoing progression of ponies and riders, as they tackle new goals and reach new pinnacles. The sense of camaraderie between you all, thanks to the social media platform of Facebook means that we can all share in your successes and commiserate with you on the odd disastrous day!
I wish you all every success for the 2020 season and look forward to collating all your points in a few months’ time!