Dedication at Lime Kiln Farm in bid for prized ticket to PUK championships

In bitterly cold conditions, with the addition of wintery showers throughout the day, the most dedicated horses and riders turned out for one of few remaining opportunities to qualify for this year's prestigious PUK championships at Lime Kiln Farm in Thursford.

The PUK winter championships, being held in Slapton in Buckinghamshire, offer only a few valuable qualifying tickets in each class.

It was a great start to the day for Claire Vick with a first in both the in hand youngstock class and the Keston Royal Occasion M & M in hand class with her eight-month-old bay gelding, Green Wing Hill Billy, who was competing at his first ever show.

In the Apachee in hand coloured horse class, the win went to Sophie Fairhurst with her retired piebald broodmare Blackhawk Down.

An Irish sport horse at the ripe young age of 15, Blackhawk Down wowed the judge, Geoffrey Barrett, and was the lucky winner of the qualifying ticket for PUK in March.

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The event even enticed competitors from as far away as Hertfordshire to get those precious remaining qualifying tickets.

The Parkhouse family made the journey a worthwhile one, with nine-year-old Emmy Parkhouse winning many classes, including the Chesham handler and the amateur rider's ridden M & M, with her well-campaigned pony Gwithian Geraint.

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The four-year-old chestnut Welsh Sec B, known around the stable as Jago, stood champion at the East of England show last year.

Selina Parkhouse said: 'Lime Kiln Farm is one of the only places to hold the whole collection of classes, perfect for getting all those qualifying spots.'

There was friendly competition in class 18, the Watson ridden competition horse/pony class, where teacher was against pupil. Georgina Wilks, who owns a livery yard in Great Yarmouth, took the honours on her mother's horse Coswarth Legacy, a seven-year-old thoroughbred gelding. Her pupil, Emilia Burril, took the runner-up prize as well as taking the winner's spot in the show hunter pony class with recent partner, Fanisk Crafty.

Emilia, from the family-run Glebe Farm Saddlery in Sculthorpe, has been with her pony Fanisk Crafty from November and they hope to have a successful season showing and progressing together.

The winner of the Llanarth M & M ridden large breeds class was Laura Oughton-Auker on her Welsh section D, Erdyl-Joshua. Laura, from King's Lynn, says they have been a partnership for three years, and broke Erdyl-Joshua in herself.

They have big ambitions for the coming season, with a plan to compete at the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk shows, and eventually aiming to compete at Olympia next winter.

Tturnout wasn't as high as expected, but rumour suggested that with the BSPS winter ball that coming evening, many competitors had ditched their jodhpurs for jewels.

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