FROM the minute he walked into Ring 1 at the RDS last Saturday afternoon, partnered by Kate Harrington, Sizing John looked outstanding.

And after an exhaustive assessment of the 18 competitors by the two British judges, ride judge jumps jockey Bryony Frost and conformation judge the Hon Mrs Hopper Cavendish, Sizing John proved the star turn as the winner of the Racehorse to Riding horse class, sponsored by ITM (Irish Thoroughbred Marketing).

For thoroughbreds only, this class is open to Irish-breds and/or foreign-bred horses that have been trained in Ireland for a minimum of one year.

What the judges were looking for was quality, substance, bone, excellent conformation and true action and in the preliminary stages the entries and the riders showed their paces - walking, trotting, cantering and extending.

A winner on his showing debut at the Sceilig Showing Festival in May and at Raheendaw in June, Sizing John (Midnight Legend x La Perrotine) was first up for the judges and exhibited the same kind of class, ridden and in hand, which saw him win three chasing Gold cups in one season in 2017.


Gold Bullet, ridden by Rachel Moore, and eventual second Woodland Opera went well for the judges and General Principle (Seainin Mahon), last year’s winner of this class, as was expected, was a complete professional.

Home Farm performed admirably and others to catch the eye were Yeats’ The West’s Awake with a lovely walk and trot, Mickah Wallace, Douvan, Snow Falcon and Max Dynamite.

Called in first by the judges and never leaving that spot was Sizing John who behaved impeccably and was crowned champion.

Kate Harrington spoke afterwards: “He was very good wasn’t he. He’s an amazing show performer, just loves being out and competing.

“He would never excite you with his work at home when he was a racehorse but on the track it was a different story. He can be difficult to ride at home. He will be going perfectly well in the indoor school for 10 minutes and then take a notion and won’t go down one side of the arena.

“But for Bryony (Frost), he did the job beautifully. She told me she had done a bit of showing in the past.

“I was almost sorry to beat Woodland Opera because I won on him first time out in a Leopardstown bumper! Jamie did an amazing job with him and I’m delighted for the Cooper family.

“I was nervous beforehand as it was tight in that ring with 18 horses and John is so powerful and has such a big stride, he can be on top of the other horses.

“We are qualified for the Racehorse to Riding final at Trim this season. And I am looking forward now to show jumping and eventing with him – why not?

“It’s been a great boost for my mother and also for Robbie Power and his sister Elizabeth who did all the work to get John right. I have to hand it to them.

“It’s such a pleasure for the horse as an ultimate showman, he just loves being the centre of attention again.”


“As far as I’m concerned we won!” laughed Valerie Cooper, breeder and joint-owner with her daughter Diana of reserve champion Woodland Opera. “To beat Sizing John was never on the cards for any of us really. I’m absolutely delighted.

“Jamie (Buckley) was emotionally drained afterwards. The class was terribly late, about an hour and twenty minutes, and she had to keep Opera from boiling over, he can be quite electric.

“It was a horrible year for Jamie as she broke two bones in her hand and had to do a lot of the work from the ground. And they had to withdraw from another show as the horse pulled a shoe and went lame.

“I sold Opera Hat, his dam, to England, but my son Patrick bought her back and gave her to me on Christmas Day! It was actually Chich Fowler who suggested sending her to Robin Des Champs and Woodland Opera was the only winner out of her.

“We’re going to keep this up until the horse tells us to stop.”

Stephanie McGlynn, an instructor at RACE (the Racing Academy and Centre of Education) whose work rate was described by a RACE colleague as “insane”, placed third on her own Anjaal five-year-old Mickah Wallace, who had shown winning form since his change of career from racing, including at the Northern Ireland Festival in May this year.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” said Stephanie. “I’ve only just stopped crying! It was nerve wracking as the class was so late. Some people had tacked up and then had to take it all off again.

“I had ridden at Dublin before in 2015 but this was a completely different atmosphere. We all agreed the worst part of the showing is the walking and trotting, we just want to get on with it.

“We were pulled in eighth and I was so proud of him, he stood stock still. I have to say Bryony Frost is one of the best riding judges I’ve seen at Dublin.

Well behaved

“The conformation judge told me that they had no choice but to move him up he was so well behaved.”

Future plans could include eventing and some further Racehorse to Riding classes. “Some of the older horses could be retiring from the Racehorse to Riding circuit so that gives us every chance. Age is on our side.”