And the winner is...
Anne Bullen's A Pony to School.
I think Anne Bullen was supreme at catching the wish fulfilment element of pony books. Her ponies are not 100% as ponies are, but they certainly are as they canter through your dreams; breedy, kindly and oh so noble. Her Cascade in Wish for a Pony was my childhood dream of bliss, as was Daybreak in I Wanted a Pony.
I wonder if that's why she's won out over artists who are arguably technically more accomplished? I know that when I voted in the rounds coming up to the final that the emotional pull of several of the dustjackets won out over the technical expertise of others.
Lionel Edwards is one who I think lost out because of this. In the initial round of over 60 books, there were 13 of his titles, with Anne Bullen having 8 and Sam Savitt, Sheila Rose and Peter Biegel (a Lionel Edwards pupil with a very similar style) following on behind with 3 each. There's absolutely no element of fantasy whatsoever in Lionel Edwards' style: he gives us horses and ponies straight - although one might argue that his portrayal of the Exmoor Moorland Mousie, who turns into a rather Thoroughbred-influenced being shows an element of wish fulfilment. Nice breedy types please: none of your hairy ponies.
I still love his illustrations; and if I had to choose between Lionel Edwards and Anne Bullen for something to put up on my wall, I'd go for Lionel, out of sheer appreciation for something wonderful to look at, but for that emotional pull to the dreams of childhood, it's Anne every time.