Cracker of a horse ready for Boxing Day outing

At the age of 26, Mr Cracker still enjoys a day out hunting and is sure to be on his toes for the Middleton Hunt's Boxing Day meet at Malton on Monday.

This veteran hunter is currently being ridden by UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom with Godfrey's wife, Katie, keeping a watchful eye on the pair.

"Mr Cracker has hunted all his life from being four-years-old and now he's looking after Godfrey very well, even taking him over fences when Godfrey is getting a bit ambitious," said Katie.

The grey horse belongs to Mary Rook, a former master of the Holderness Hunt, and was originally imported from Ireland by David Nicholson. Mrs Rook hunted and field mastered on Mr Cracker with the Holderness and he also went to Pony Club camp with her daughter, Amy.

"He got his name because Mary thought he was 'a real cracker' and he has certainly lived up to that name," said Katie.

"He has helped a few people learn to ride and get hunting and two years ago we were lucky enough to be able to have him on loan.

"He and Godfrey just clicked – it's just like watching two blokes go to the pub – and now they hunt with the Brocklesby and the Middleton, where Mary is a master."

Katie will also be at the Boxing Day meet and she will be riding side-saddle, a talent for which she became rather well known a few years

ago.

She has always hunted regularly and also used to show at county level, riding in hunter classes and hunter side-saddle classes.

After a particularly good day out at a side-saddle hunt organised by the Atherstone, about six years ago she had the somewhat eccentric idea of visiting other hunts, in fact working her way through the alphabet of hunts, riding side-saddle.

She was accompanied on this venture by her then yard manager, Jane Collins.

They christened their tour The Lucy Glitters Sporting Tour after a character in Surtees' book, Mr Sponge's Sporting Tour and it took them all over the country.

"It was rather a crazy idea but I'm glad we did it," says Katie. She is a physiotherapist who also treats horses and she and her husband live at Wressle, near Howden.

After giving up serious showing, Katie found there was a bit of a gap in her life, which is when Mr Cracker came along, plus two more horses that she and her husband are hunting.

Mr Cracker also started out on a new career this summer, thanks to Katie's interest in showing, when she started to enter him in veteran showing classes where he is ridden by Kate Read who helps Katie with the horses.

"He's really taken to it and we've had a lot of fun.

"He has had three wins and three reserve championships in Olympia qualifiers at regional level, missing out on his Olympia ticket very narrowly.

"We hope he will be in good order to have another go next year, as this bold, comfortable, perfectly mannered horse, who has given so much pleasure to his jockeys, deserves to be at Olympia," she added.

Sampson's silver lining after losing at Olympia

SHEFFIELD showjumper Matt Sampson, 20, had to settle for second place at this year's Under 23 British Championships at the London International Horse Show, Olympia.

Matt, last year's winner, was narrowly beaten in the jump-off by Jemma Kirk from Fife who collected a handy 3,250 in prize money.

However there was some compensation for Matt, who is on the British Equestrian Federation's World Class Development Programme, as he won the style prize of a 1,500 voucher to use on buying a saddle.

Matt, whose parents run the Parklands Equestrian Centre at Aston near Sheffield, is now based with Henk Nooren in Belgium.

He was awarded a wild card to Olympia and this was only his second competition in Britain this year.

He rode Utopia X11 and admitted he was a little frustrated at being beaten by such a short head.

Jemma was the last to go in the jump-off and took 0.62 seconds off Matt's time to win in 28.63 seconds.

"Jemma is a really good rider and always competitive," said Matt.

"And I'm so pleased with my mare because she's only nine and I was worried about how she would cope with the atmosphere."

A reminder from Emma Richardson, MFH of the Holderness Hunt, that their traditional Boxing Day meet will be held on Monday, December 27 rather than on Boxing Day itself which is a Sunday. The meet will be at 10.45am on Beverley Westwood.

Other hunts will also be meeting on Monday according to the Masters of Foxhounds Association. For more information about your local hunt, go to www.mfha.org.uk.

Farrier Andy Smith, who was featured on this page last week, can be contacted on 07817143605.

Yorkshire stud hoping to join the hunt and beat weather

AMONG those hoping to enjoy some hunting over the Christmas break, if the weather permits, are the all-female team at the Upsall Stud at South Kilvington near Thirsk.

The stud is run by mother and daughter, Christine Glasspole and Amy Poltinger, with the help of Jenny Gaskell, Debbie Daniel and young rider Sarah Daniel, 13.

Christine and Amy started by breeding their own youngsters and moved from Warwickshire to North Yorkshire where they are working on developing the stud.

Their stallions include Winston X1V, the only stallion they know of standing at stud in the UK from the prolific stallion, Cabri d'elle who with Scott Smith formed part of the British team at the 2001 European Championships and competed at the 2002 World Equestrian Games.

They competed on 35 Nations Cup teams and also won Grand Prix competitions throughout Europe. Cabri d'elle is still competing.

Amy has competed in unaffiliated showjumping, cross country and dressage and says one of her priorities is to start doing some British Showjumping next season.

"I started showing this season and really enjoyed it," said Amy.

"I also love hunting, as do the young horses.

"It gives them a completely new challenge and with hunting twice a week, they all get a chance to go.

"Mum used to compete when she was younger and still rides now on her maxi cob, Super Sonic, who she will be hunting."

yp.sport@ypn.co.uk