I was so honoured when I was asked to judge at this year’s Cherif Championships at Addington on 13th September. A memorable date as its Joey’s birthday – but, figuring that he is only 2, he isn’t particularly adept at reading calendars and isn’t totally knowledgable about birthdays, I thought he wouldn’t mind if I accepted.
However, there was a tinge of sadness over the show as it would be the last one. I have only been to the show once before but have a significant memory of the amazing atmosphere and the pre-show meal setting an all inclusive tone which was remarkable. Top, professional show producers dining with hobby competitors and all having a lovely time. I am pleased that going as a judge leaves the same fond memories.
I really enjoyed learning more about the show and the journey of its development. Before the idea of the Cherif Champs came about (from a late night phone call in 1989), admitting your horse had Arab bloodlines was a no go. Part bred Arabs were perceived so badly in the show ring and the team wanted to change this. Over the years, some notable names have won – Broadgrove Chatterbox, Chiddock Spot On, Comberton Clancy, Valentinos Royal Tough…. The Cherif has categorically changed the attitude and the name is now synonymous with top class horses and ponies.
Plus I loved the breeding classes where we got to see broodmares with their various offspring. A personal highlight was seeing Wilderness Carmen – a previous Cherif Champion and a stunning mare I was lucky enough to ride. Seeing her strutting her stuff, looking as magnificent as ever and obviously enjoying showing off her beautiful family was a joy.
It was an incredible show but I can understand its end. Maybe it’s done its job and maybe it is better to finish on a high. Maybe the team have done enough – it takes a huge amount of time and effort to create such an event! The Horse of the Year Show now hold a part bred final which just shows what an impact these ladies have had – maybe the baton has been passed on? Although, I wish the atmosphere of the show could remain – maybe some of the other big shows could learn from these ladies…