ONE of the youngest competitors at Saturday’s second qualifier in this year’s Baileys Horse Feeds flexi-eventing series at The Meadows was Abi Gardner from Comber who scored 62.5% in Section A of the Intro class on Hillside Nicely Dun (aka Danny).

Eleven-year-old Abi is a daughter of former event rider Elaine Gardner who will be best remembered competing the lovely Da Capo Two, the grey gelding on whom she recorded many wins at EI100 and EI110 level as an amateur. Elaine and her son of Templebready Fear Bui also competed at CCI1* level while, in 2011, Suzanne Hagan partnered Da Capo Two to finish second in the CIC1* at Ballindenisk in early May and third shortly afterwards in the CCI1* at the much-missed Tattersalls Ireland international.

The now eight-year-old Danny, a dun gelding as his official name would suggest, arrived at the Gardner yard at the start of lockdown three years ago when Abi’s own pony, Buster, was on his winter break. He came from Elaine’s good friend, local veterinary surgeon Rachel Robertson, and his planned two-week stay has been extended ever since.

Abi has produced Danny herself under the watchful eyes of her trainers Carolyn Mellor (dressage) and James Hogg (show jumping) with support from Elaine McKee from Equi Suds Equine Laundry. The young rider has mapped out a plan for the pony once the flexi-eventing series has ended and is aiming him at Show Jumping Ireland competitions, the Northern Ireland Festival at Cavan, Balmoral Show and, if her parents Elaine and Jeremy stay the course, some two-phase and one-day events.