‘This was on the bucket list’: first Windsor worker triumph for rider and her ‘best mate’
Ellie Hirst, 26, couldn’t hold back the tears as she left the Castle Arena aboard her own Noble Gladiator after he’d secured top honour in the prestigious NAF Five Star Royal Windsor working hunter championship on day one of the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
Earlier in the morning, the upstanding grey gelding had jumped one of three clears to win the heavyweight section, the class he’d stood second in 12 months earlier.
The championship win marked a career first for Ellie:
“We were second and reserve here in the workers last year, so to come back and win it means the world to me,” she said. “Today has been a dream come true. This was definitely on the bucket list; he keeps ticking them off for me. This was a real achievement for me as a rider, too, and I’m so shocked to win it.”
“OB” has been based with the Hirst family since he was a five-year-old. Now a 12-year-old, the Dunkerrin Leader son who was bred by Elaine Keeting, was supreme working hunter champion at the Royal International (RIHS) last year, and he’s been a consistent campaigner on the county show circuit as a working hunter, a middleweight and as a ladies’ ride.
Ellie noted that OB made light of the 12-fence track that stood before them during the class:
“He found it really easy and he didn’t look at a thing,” she said. “He loved it from the moment he trotted in. He’s my best mate in the world and he tries so hard for me.”
The winning lightweight, Kay Wilson’s mare Nelly Newton, scored reserve in the Royal Windsor working hunter championship, under Libby Cooke.
You may also be interested in…
Super savings on Horse & Hound magazine throughout May
Which of The King’s show horses are to compete at the 2023 Royal Windsor Horse Show?
‘I like a goer’: Find out how to impress the 2023 Royal Windsor ridden coloured judge
‘They’re not showjumpers’: what working hunter judge Anna Levy will be looking for at Royal Windsor
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.