The Countess of Devon had plenty to celebrate on the first day of the show as she watched her horse win the Local Hunter class with Howard Cooper on board.
Nineteen combinations came forward for this popular class, which is confined to owners and riders living in Devon.
“Skippy really is a little superstar,” said Lady Devon, who gave the beautiful bay mare a huge pat as she left the ring.
“I’ve had lots of young horses showing, but I’ve not had a riding horse for years, so this really is very exciting.”
Lady Devon bought the ten-year-old mare 18 months ago from Valerie Kemp, who owns the well-known stallion Ganton Rufus, Skippy’s sire.
“I was looking for something civilised to hunt and Valerie said she had just the horse, so I tried Skippy and thought, yippee and bought her.”
The pair has enjoyed hunting with the Mid Devon, South Devon and Silverton Hunts.
“At the end of the hunting season I didn’t want her to get too fat and as I won’t have a lot of time to ride her, I suddenly remembered show producer Wendy Gibson has a good yard at Kennford.”
Lady Clinton added: “Both Wendy and Howard came to look at her and thought she was something rather nice, so off she went across the road. I never really thought she was more than just a nice hunter, but they did absolutely magic today. The wet has stopped so much of the preparation, but she has still gone out there with Howard and won it – I’m very proud of them.”
Commenting on his winner, Howard said: “She was brilliant. She did everything she was meant to do. She is just so easy and has a lovely attitude with it too. The more she goes the more she’ll improve – she just goes out there and does the job, which makes my life easier.”
Lady Clinton added: “It is so pleasing when showing and performance comes together.”
Local riders continued to do well in the Ridden Hunters, with Dawn Weston of Plymouth seeing her horse Rubins win the Lightweight section with Nathan Arnold, once again in good company.
This combination went on to stand reserve champion to the heavyweight Cloneyhea Fame, ridden by Claire Oliver from Gloucestershire.
“This is our third outing this season and second reserve championship, I’m over the moon,” said Nathan, who confirmed they have already qualified for the Royal International Horse Show and will now campaign for Horse of the Year Show qualifiers.