South of England Show, Ardingly, 8 - 10 June 2017
The Golden Show
By Stephanie DeWitt Photography Julian Portch #hickstead
In celebration of its fiftieth year, the South of England Show was honoured by a visit from the Presiding President HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. After unveiling the showground's fifty-year timeline and planting this year's millionth English vine, the Duchess settled down to watch the ongoing Sussex Life Area Trial in the main Ardingly Ring which was won by Ben Walker riding Roulette H.
Top showjumping competition continued over the weekend with wins for Michael Duffy and Ben Dalton's EFS Top Contender in the International Stairway and Keith Doyle on Harlequin Dunnraven in the Grand Prix while Georgia Tame notched up the top score in the fastest time with the appropriately named Cash Up in the Accumulator.
Gemma Millman steered her ponies Piglet and Eeyore to victory in the Osborne Scurry Driving Championships while 12 year-old Rocco Dettori emulated his father Frankie's success by winning the Shetland Pony Grand National.
Dressed as Cossacks from the Russian Steppes, the Devil's Horsemen gave twice-daily displays of trick riding led by Camilla and featuring the black stallion, Dante, probably best-known for his appearances in the bank commercial. With starring roles in many other film and television productions already under their belt, watch out for the Devil's Horsemen in the forthcoming "Wonder Woman" movie!
The Heavy Horse Turnouts were judged by Mr Ronald Brewster from Methven who delivered an excellent commentary to give a modern audience an insight into everyday life in bygone times. He explained how a horse could plough an acre a day, walking eleven miles in the process, often over rough, hilly ground that could be wet and muddy. John Goodwin was most successful with his Shire horses being placed first in the teams and pairs, second in the singles.
Showing classes across the board were well-subscribed with many worthy winners. Georgina Steele elegantly rode Colbeach Mark of Distinction to victory in the side saddle championship while Morgan Schive and Nightwatchman took the top spot in the Side Saddle Costume Concours d'Elegance. The Working Hunter Championship went to Samantha Darlington riding Lisa's Dream. Show Hunter of the Year was Seabourne Silent Valley with Garry Merton in the saddle while Miss V Russell-Wood qualified for the HOYS Cuddy Supreme Championship with Stage Music.
In the final of the fiercely-contested Inter Hunt Relay Coakham Bloodhounds triumphed, beating Mid Surrey Farmers into second place with the Old Surrey, Burstow & West Kent third and the Kent and Surrey Bloodhounds fourth.
The culmination of three days of excellent competition and entertainment was the cutting of a giant 50th birthday cake by Carole Hayward, Vice Chairman of SEAS, ably assisted by a quartet of young volunteers.