Liz Gregory didn't imagine that the success at local shows would be replicated by her horse Daisy Patch English Affair at the Southern Cross Show Horse Spectacular, Sydney Royal Easter Show and Bathurst Royal.
Affectionately known as Albert, Daisy Patch English Affair, owned by Liz, took out reserve champion child's small galloway ridden by Liz Taylor at the Southern Cross Show Horse Spectacular; won their Riding Pony gelding any age over 13hh and not exceeding (ne) 14.2hh; came second in the ladies galloway; third in the open lightweight galloway over 14hh and ne 14.2hh and; came sixth in the Riding Pony mare or gelding over 13.2hh ne 14.2hh ridden by Emma Rayner at Sydney Royal Easter Show. She then backed it up at Bathurst Royal taking home Reserve Champion led Australian National Saddlehorse Association (ANSA); first in the ladies galloway; first in the open lightweight galloway 14hh ne 14.2hh; Reserve Champion open galloway; reserve champion ridden Riding Pony and; fourth in the ridden ANSA with Emma once again in the saddle.
The Reserve Champion win at Bathurst now means that Albert has qualified for the 2023 Show Horse Council Grand Nationals at Sydney International Equestrian Center (SIEC) early next year.
"I bought Albert when he was rising two, before kids and the idea was for him to replace a galloway I had at the time that was heading towards retirement," Liz said.
"I'd been looking for a couple of months, just to see what young ones there were and had been looking at one and then Albert popped up on the Daisy Patch site."
Liz worked with Albert from the moment she got him with his handling and then sent him to Emma Rayner at Emerald Equestrian near Bungendore to be broken in to saddle.
"He went to Emma's and did a few stints with just groundwork, did two led seasons and then she broke him in," Liz said.
"She took him out and did the West run (Ag Shows held in the west of NSW), Parkes, that area."
After Emma and Albert finished the western show run COVID really started to take hold on the state with Shows cancelling and areas going into lockdown.
"That was his newcomer year, when COVID hit so his first show under saddle was Gundagai and he was pretty much straight from the truck to the ring," Liz said.
"He's always been pretty quiet, quirky on the ground, we describe him as being ADD, just in your face, has to know what everyone's doing, he has this knack of getting you absolutely covered in makeup."
When show horses go out in the ring they are presented with black or clear 'makeup' around their eyes and muzzle to highlight their bone structure and eyes.
"He has no idea of personal space whatsoever.
"If you didn't know him, you would strangle him," Liz joked.
"You would have sacked him at the beginning because he's always been that way."
There is a saying in the horse world that all the best horses have their quirks and Liz agrees that she wouldn't have him any other way.
"All the good ones have quirks," Liz agreed.
During Albert's newcomer year (his first year under saddle) he came home from every show with either a win, champion or reserve champion and also qualified for Grand National in his first year out as well, which is pretty impressive for a young horse.
"He is still a baby, because of COVID we haven't had those big show runs, his third show under saddle was Canberra (Royal) and he didn't bat an eyelid at anything," Liz said.
His usual rider Emma had to pull out of Grand Nationals in the lead up to Sydney due to illness, however, she said that she was lucky to have had such an easy ride on him at the Royal.
"He's one of those ones that looks bright when he works but he is actually quite, as Emma says, very lazy," Liz said.
"I think Grand Nationals made Emma realise she's done such a good job with him."
With such an impressive resume already behind him Liz will continue to set her sights on the future with him as the sky is the limit with the young gelding.
Looking forward Liz is hoping that now her own children are a little older that she will be able to jump in the saddle and continue his training at home.
"I do hope that now that my kids are easier that I'll be able to take over doing most of the training at home and Emma will compete him," she said.
"We'll get there."
Liz was so proud to see Albert out in the ring at Sydney Royal and the moment that the ribbon was placed on him when he won was something she won't forget anytime soon.
"It's exciting," she said. "It's exciting to know that when I bought him as a two-year-old thinking that he looks special and should be something special, that it's all Emma's hard work and that vision of where he could be is starting to pay off."
Albert's next show will be at the Show Horse Council Pacific Coast Hack Championships which will be held at SIEC on June 3-5 where Liz is hoping to gain another Grand National qualification in his open galloway class.
Following on from Pacific Coast Albert will also be contending the Equestrian NSW Horse of the Year where they hope to do one better than they did at the Equestrian Australia Nationals where he came in runner up child's galloway ridden by Liz Taylor.
Liz wanted to take the opportunity to say a massive thank you to Emma Rayner and Emerald Equestrian and she also wanted to thank her family for their support, love and understanding, especially her husband.
"I think any husband would say we're all mad," Liz said.
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