A showjmping protégé took top prize at an international show – with a little help from a billionaire fan.
Drew Walton, of Chapel Lane, Longton, won first prize in her class at the International Horse Show at Olympia, London. The 12-year-old, who attends All Hallows Catholic High School, in Penwortham, rode pony Pringle to glory in the 128 showjumping class.
The prized pony attracted the interests of the billionaire Chelsea owner who bought it from Drew’s family for his daughter.
But keen to help the youngster grab top prize, the billionaire let Drew ride the pony one last time for the event.
Drew’s mum Kerry said: “Pringle is the in the top 12 ponies in the country so he attracted the attention of the Abramovich family.
“Drew actually qualified on another pony but they said she could ride Pringle.
“When she won all the family were in tears. She had only spent two weeks training on Pringle – individually we knew they could do it but it was yet to be seen if they could win together.”
Drew said: “I was quite confident as we knew Pringle was on form. When I got into the ring I was nervous because it was my last competition in that class. I was in tears when I got clear of all the jumps, my emotions just overcame me.”
The youngster has been riding since she was three and credits her trainer, Janet Kay, for her success. Mum Kerry said: “Janet and Drew are very close so whatever Janet says Drew takes on board. She had put in a lot of hard work.” Drew added: “Janet gave me some advice about a final turn that I had struggled with and I ended up getting clear of all the fences.”
Grandmother Margaret Walton said: “She has worked hard to get there and puts in hours and hours.
“She has been there three times and this year she has won it. We’re very proud.”
Now Drew, who lives with her mum, dad Adam and sisters Jessica, 17, and Lola, six, is aiming for Olympic glory.