Memories of the British Nationals: Litigation

Continuing with memories from the British National Championships in this Centenary year for the Arab Horse Society, we feature our next British National Champion. Our featured horse today remains one of the most amazing mares bred on British shores in all time.

28-231-20 Litigation 2yo 1996

Litigation – by Paul Atkinson
Some years ago, at the British National Show, the antics of a very beautiful filly foal captivated me. Frances Hutchinson was showing this incredibly high-quality filly, superbly plaited, produced and conditioned, in her Anglo Arab class and I was spellbound by the rather dramatic scene which unfolded before me, as well as by the foal’s obvious quality.

To call the filly’s performance “high-spirited” would be something of an understatement and I had to admire her rather athletic approach to the whole scene! She reared, bucked, kicked and valiantly attempted to escape from her rather surprised and somewhat exasperated handler, one of those exhibitors who is usually much more in control!

On one of the rare occasions that the filly actually stood quietly that day, she was remarkable for her beautiful head, her particularly large, dark eyes and, of course, her presence. She had an especially well-shaped, slender, curved neck, a deep, well-proportioned body and straight, ebony-coloured legs, which resembled blue steel in their appearance.

In the catalogue, I noticed that she was sired by a long-time favourite, the gorgeous Thoroughbred Criminal Law, and this filly foal was out of the pure-bred champion mare Crystal Ferzona, sired by my great friend Nadia Howard-Price’s legendary Crystal Magician and out of Grai Parasol, one of the first daughters of Gai Gaspacho, who had stood with me at The Grange Arabian Stud when on lease from the Gaineys in California.

The filly was cleverly named Litigation and from that day, I took special interest in her development, as she seemed to have inherited the perfect blend of Thoroughbred and Arabian attributes. As a yearling, she went from strength to strength and had maintained her intense quality, while having developed added bone and substance. She confounded everyone by turning into the sweetest of all personalities and, by the time she was backed and ridden away, she approached perfection. It is my opinion that she has become one of the greatest Anglo Arab mares ever.

31-196-33 Litigation 1999

In time (and coincidentally!), I married Litigation’s breeder/owner; Frances (now Atkinson); we both feel privileged to spend our time with this glorious Anglo mare on a daily basis. She fulfils all that anyone could ask of a horse: she is beautifully bred, she is glorious to look at and she is simply the most wonderful riding horse. She has even drawn one of the carriages through the forest, rather faster than anticipated but, nevertheless, it is a fact  worthy of being included in her CV! Best of all, she is now producing foals which are of outstanding merit.

Along the way, Litigation also happens to have garnered no less than five British National Championships, both in-hand and under saddle, a fact that has placed her well into the record books. Like Sinatra, her retirement may be somewhat short-lived, as there is the distinct possibility that Litigation will reappear in the show ring at some stage in the future…or perhaps she could become my next western reining horse! Time will tell.

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This post comes from a series we first ran in The Arabian Magazine in 2005. Called Malvern Calling, the series celebrated British National Champions from Malvern, Ascot and even Kempton Park, and different readers shared their favourite memory from the British Nationals. There is always something special about watching the moment a horse is crowned British National Champion, so please enjoy the memories that will be shared here over the coming month.

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