Prolific showman Allister Hood has announced his retirement from the show ring after landing his ninth supreme horse title at the Prenetics Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) this afternoon (25 July).

The victory in the British Horse Society Supreme Ridden Horse extends Allister’s record for having the most wins in this historic class.

Allister’s retirement ceremony at RIHS

It also marks retirement for his winning mount Our Cashel Blue, who earned a perfect three 10s from the judges, after qualifying for the supreme with victory in Tuesday’s Oyster Wealth Planning BSPA Skewbald & Piebald Indian Trail Ridden Championship.

The decorated cob also stood supreme champion here in 2019. They had also clocked up three supreme cob titles at Hickstead, as well as standing supreme at Horse of the Year Show in 2016.

Our Cashel Blue is of unknown breeding and was bought from Ireland.

“We knew when we first saw him that we had a future champion on our hands,” said Allister. “It took six months for us to find the key to him, but once we did I couldn’t have had a more faithful or willing partner ever.

“He loved the job, loved every minute. He deserves to go out on a high, and that’s what we’ve achieved — and where better than Hickstead.”

Overcoming adversity

Although they have enjoyed countless triumphs and become crowd favourites, both Allister and Our Cashel Blue have fought back from serious health issues.

In 2018, the cob underwent treatment for a rare form of cancer and then had six months off to recover. During that time, Allister had a heart attack but thankfully made a full recovery.

Our Cashel Blue was owned by Lady Caroline Tyrell, who died last year at the age of 90 and left the horse to the Hood family.

The 12-year-old will now live out his days at the Hoods’ yard in Norfolk and enjoy hunting with Allister.

“He hunts, goes on beach rides, and is generally adored by everyone at the yard,” said Allister.

Emotional ceremony

During the emotional retirement ceremony, Our Cashel Blue’s saddle was removed and a laurel wreath placed around his neck. Allister took off his showman’s red jacket and switched it to tweed, and was presented with a crystal decanter from Hickstead executive director Lizzie Bunn.

The showman was also given a guard of honour from fellow showing competitors as he left Hickstead’s international arena for a final time.

“We’ve been so fortunate; we’ve had some wonderful horses and wonderful owners, and a lot of the clients we’ve had have been with us for many, many years. I think we’ve achieved some pretty good results for a lot of them,” added Allister, who plans to continue to ride at home while also concentrating more on teaching others.

To watch the full class, click here.

Family affair

Robert Walker and the Brereton Supreme Hack Champion, Parkgate Royal Visit William, finished reserve supreme champions. It marked the end of a successful show for the Walkers, with Robert’s wife Sarah also qualifying for the supreme when winning the Surrey Envelopes Supreme Cob Championship on the six-year-old Red Butler.

Yorkshire rider Mia Donaldson, 16, lifted The Leeman Family BSPS Supreme Show Pony Championship on the 128cm victor Wilderness Early Bird, before riding off for overall honours in the Supreme Products Supreme Pony Championship.

“She always performs a beautiful show and I love riding her in the ring. She loves the gallop. She’s perfect,” said Mia of the pony.

For showing results, click here.

Photos: Hickstead

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