Darcy Fowler’s delight as Nutkin is crowned People’s Choice Rehomed Superstar

Darcy Fowler and her horse Nutkin take first place in the World Horse Welfare Parade. Picture: Sport

Darcy Fowler and her horse Nutkin take first place in the World Horse Welfare Parade. Picture: Sportsbeat/Roberto Payne - Credit: Archant

Norfolk's Darcy Fowler already knew her best friend Nutkin was a superstar pony, but now the five-year-old has full confirmation of just how special he is.

That's because Thursday saw Nutkin crowned Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials People's Choice Rehomed Superstar, barely a few months after the two were united for the first time.

The white grey Welsh section A horse first joined the Fowler family, who live in Mattishall, near Dereham, in February from World Horse Welfare, a rehoming charity.

He arrived at the charity as a scrawny foal with lice and overgrown feet from another rescue centre which no longer had the money to care for its horses.

But from rags, Nutkin has very much hit riches, with Darcy's mother, Leah, completely overjoyed to see the special bond between the two recognised in the shadow of the four-star event.

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'He has his cheeky tendencies like any pony, but he is a superstar,' she said, after Nutkin beat off competition from five other finalists.

'He is Darcy's pony, that's what I love about him, when he's with me or anyone else he gets pulled about and is a jitterbug, but when he's with Darcy he is a completely different character.

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'He looks after her, enjoys her company and they just love each other – that's what makes it so special.

'We've only had him since February, but they're a match made in heaven.'

All the animals on the scheme remain under the charity's ownership, so they may stay with the rehomer for life but can be returned if circumstances change.

Darcy's companion, who is in stables in North Tuddenham, made it to the Burghley final after Leah sent in a 300-word story detailing his life as well as three pictures of his development.

The competition is run in conjunction with World Horse Welfare, whose rehoming scheme is the largest of its kind in the UK, with more than 1,700 horses and ponies currently in loving homes across the country.

They were also watched by fellow Norfolk eventer Piggy French, who was delighted with what she saw as she prepares for her own Burghley experience in Friday's dressage.

She explained: 'So much hard work from the World Horse Welfare has gone in to get them to this point.

'The six who got to the final are amazing and a credit to all those concerned.

'It means so much to everyone who has looked after these ponies so well, Darcy had tears in her eyes, and it's great to see.

'To see them so happy and loved is everything, they've got such life and they're so wanted, 'I've been on the back of one of them to do a lap of honour and that's got my adrenaline up for the weekend.

'I'm still relatively new to four-star with Vanir Kamira, it's going to be a great experience and we take each competition as it comes. Fingers crossed luck is on our side.'

The multi-award winning Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials from August 31 – September 3 has been established as a major international equestrian and social event in the Autumn Sporting Calendar for over 50 years. For more information visit burghley-horse.co.uk

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