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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Many hands contributed to the making of a great horse

ABOVE: Alanna Richards and Royal Blu.

SHOW people never pass up a handsome horse, and even if they don’t need it for themselves, they buy it, tell good friends about it and if it does well, they are happy.

That was the case with the dapple-grey Sydney Royal Show champion hack Royal Blu, with three groups of people contributing to his success.

Racing as Our Boy Rueben, by Our Echelon, trained by Terry McCarthy at Glen Innes he had a very short racing career with just the one start, finishing the last of 11 starters so soon found himself for sale online.

Greg Gerry and Darren Telford from Whitmere Stud saw him on and as people that can see what a young horse can become, bought the very dark grey horse, took him home and let him down from racing.

They didn’t really need him as they were already showing two beautiful Thoroughbred mares under saddle and their own Riding Ponies, so when fellow show horse producers Chris and Vicky Lawrie called in to visit, the young horse changed hands.

“Chris and I called at Whitmere and thought he would suit Alanna Richards who was wanting a nice hack, ” Vicky said.

“Alanna moved to South Australia in 2018 and was building a small team. Blu was like a big foal needing time to build up which Alanna gave him.”

Like many things Covid put a stop to his career start, which Alanna said was possibly a help to allow the horse to develop. “He had a couple of show preps for experience before he was shown at major shows,” she said. “His first was Adelaide Royal in 2022 where he was champion novice and went on to win his open class.”

The horse, now a spectacular dapple grey, travelled north for the 2023 Grand National and Sydney Royal.

At the Grand National he took out champion large hack over 16 hands then went on to Sydney Royal a week later to take out the prestigious Pope Cup for horses showing Thoroughbred quality. Four four days later he was decorated with the sash for Champion Hack of Sydney Royal 2023.

“I just could not believe it,” Alanna said. “I had three ambitions, to win a Grand National, a Pope Cup and a royal show championship, and we did it all in three weeks.”

She paid tribute to the support given to her by Chris and Vicky Lawrie: “They are sort of my surrogate parents, I call them Ma and Pa – their advice and help is invaluable”.

The compliment was returned.

“We get great pleasure out of bringing young people into the sport and there have been many over the years, and it was great to see Alanna’s success,” Vicky said.

Where to from now, with the big grey? He’s still young, and who knows, maybe a Garryowen is on the cards to top things off. It will make a lot of people happy if it happens.

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