The summer months being what they are, it is ages since I last watched any racing on television however I switched on to follow one of the leading Group 1 races of the season, the Coral Eclipse Stakes. Ran at Sandown Parkin early July for well over a century, it is named after the famous 18thcentury race horse, Eclipse, and is contested by some of the leading winners of the season. This year it proved a close finish with the Gosden-trained favourite, Roaring Lion, just edging ahead in the closing stages of Saxon Warrior trained by Aiden O'Brian.

It was O'Brian's son, Donnacha, who rode Saxon Warrior and a very eloquent job he made of arguing the case for his challenge to the Steward's during the televised enquiry. However the determined winner, Oisin Murphy, had no intention of giving up easily on his first Group 1 win by confidently posing a counter argument with the result eventually remaining in his favour. By sharing this previously private process with the viewer, I felt this made the Stewards' decision clear for all to see as well as providing interesting television.

Racing at this level seems so distant from my own little horsey world so, just when I was least expecting it, you can imagine my surprse when a long-standing friend appeared on screen for presentations on behalf of the winning owners, Qatar Racing. It has to be over forty years since I helped transport a Welsh pony, some garden furniture and a large carpet from Hereford to Upper Largo for Mary Redvers and her husband, David, a well respected portrait artist, on their move to Scotland from Gloucestershire. Mrs Redver's mother, Nell Pennell, was a leading pony breeder whose Bwlch prefix and famous stallion, Bwlch Valentino, were legendary during the 1950s. Her family home at Hartpury is now the home of a famous equestrian centre and college with its neighbouring farm of Tweenhills since becoming world famous as the beating heart of Qatar Racing and Qatar Bloodstock.

A well respected judge and former President of the Welsh Pony & Cob Society, Mrs Redvers was often seen at Scottish shows with her two children, who were also regular Fife Pony Club members. It was there that her son, David, met his future wife, Laura Montgomery, whose parents lived at Kinross House situated on the shores of Loch Leven. Having returned to live at Tweenhills by the early 1990s, the Redvers helped their son develop a Thoroughbred stud there as well as a base for his developing interests as a bloodstock agent both of which proved highly successful. There's no guessing from whom he inherited his good eye for a horse.

A former Joint-Master of the Ledbury Hunt, David Redvers' name became a front page headline in 2004 when he, along with some others including Otis Ferry, notorously stormed the debating chamber of The House of Commons in protest against the Hunting Bill being debated by MPs. Thankfully for him it was his bloodstock knowledge and accumen which attracted the attention ofSheikh Fahad bin Abdullah Al Thani, who selected Redvers as his Racing Manager for both his racing and breeding interests. One of six sons of a former prime minister of Qatar, Sheikh Fahad has successfully brought his brothers to the racing table thus forming one of the World's most formidable racing enterprises and a huge supporter of British horse racing.

Many Pony Club children competed at local events such as the Redvers children's local, Pittenweem Show, which was run by enthusiastic BSJA judge, Peggy Balfour, Jackie Low-Mitchell's charming mother. With three rings running from early morning until night everyone had great fun although I remember one year when locally-sourced fish boxes were included in the working hunter course. Built as a big, solid but broken wall, all was well provided the horse didn't stop or hesitiate; one smell of the fish and there was no way of getting the horse near the fence again. Perhaps this was an unfair question to ask but who would have anticipated either the fishy smell or the fear that it induced?

This struck a chord with me when I read the comments of well-known hunter judge, Rosemary King, who had placed working hunters at a recent show with qualification for HOYS. Of her winner she said that he was a true show horse who jumps, not a show jumper having a go at workers. Some modern technical courses certainly favour the latter. I wonder which would have had a go at the fish boxes–the show horse or the show jumper? Neither or both, we'll never know but one thing for sure a true hunter would certainly have thought nothing of them.

It all comes down to the old argument about the weight given to performance in any show class be it over jumps or simply on the flat. My view has always been that there are performance disciplines which cater for just that so quality, conformation, movement and suitability must play a significant part in any class which comes within the show ring.

I notice that the latter continues to raise its head within the ranks of the ridden native ponies where adults, albeit small, are no longer welcomed into the small-height classes without question. This doesn't mean to say that they can't compete but a growing band of judges are finding the practice unacceptable on the grounds of unsuitablitity and marking down accordingly. It beggars belief that adults not only want to compete on ponies whose height and build are best suited to children but also compete against children who are suitably mounted. Given that we now live in a completely different era, all the arguments about shepherding ponies carrying adults in the past goes completely over my head even if it were true. It would appear that small adults are keen to take advantage of thier junior riders who, by definition, have less experience and are not old enough to ride stallions which, in terms of their stature and presence, also enjoy an advantage over mares and geldings.

This argument hasn't to be confused with the stand which continues to be taken by the Council of the Great Yorkshire Show which has yet again enforced an animal welfare policy involving the weight of riders and the weight-bearing capacity of their mounts. Having made a considerable investment in their own set of horse scales along with standard human scales, they are well equipped to deal with the issue which saw 13 riders being asked to dismount this year by the vets charged with the task of policing the policy. Sadly the majority of cases arose in the collecting ring of the pony classes. Surely no-one can argue that the public perception of adults working in small ponies for children to take over in the ring has to be a negative one. What does it say about our ponies? Full marks to the Great Yorkshire whose principles on this issue have to be admired and one for other shows to follow if they are sufficiently bold.