Jess Mendoza lands Olympia's under 23 title


British Rio Olympics reserve rider Jessica Mendoza was crowned Dodson & Horrell world class development under 23 champion at Olympia with the 13-year-old Wan Architect.

London 2012 course-designer Bob Ellis created a tough, technical track for the 24 riders in this prestigious young rider final, and only three provided clear rounds over the testing first round. Seven other faulters joined them to make a 10-strong jump-off carrying their faults, and several produced quick rounds in the jump-off to pile on the pressure. However, Jack Whitaker provided a double clear on Valentin R to briefly take the lead. But he was no match for Jess, who expertly guided Wan Architect to wipe more than four sec from Jack’s time to secure victory.

“It was a hard course and it took a lot of jumping. The four-faulters put in some very fast rounds in the jump-off, I knew I had to be quick from the start, but my horse has a bit more experience and he’s very quick against the clock,” said Jess, a member of the Podium Potential squad.

Performance manager Di Lampard was impressed with Jess’ round.

“Jess won it really well. She has plenty of experience above her fellow riders and has been competing at the highest level for the past two years, going to the 2015 European championships and part of the Rio Olympic Games squad,” she said.

Jess will enjoy a very short Christmas break.

“I’m off to Florida [Palm Beach EC, Wellington] for three months the day after Christmas,” she said.

A £1,500 bonus was split between the riders jumping double clear, with Jack Whitaker picking up half of this with second place on the 14-year-old Heartbreaker stallion Valentin R, a ride he has recently taken over from his father Michael.

“My main tactic was jumping clear,” said Jack, wo claimed European pony individual gold medal in the summer.

The third clear in round one, Yazmin Davis made sure she left all the poles intact in the jump-off with the 12-year-old Guidam daughter Zilverster II, but was a little over-cautious to pick up one time fault – missing out on a share of the bonus but taking third place.

Graham Gillespie rode his home-bred Calvaro sired Celine into fourth with Millie Allen and the diminutive stallion Balou Star in fifth with Heather Larson sixth on Imagine De Muze – all finishing on four faults from round one.

A complete list of the results can be found at: http://results.hippodata.de/2016/1271/docs/r_14.pdf

Photos © Jumping Around & Jon Stroud Media/BEF

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