Lauren Edwards executed smooth yet tight lines and angled fences to secure victory in the RIHS B and C final with Ella Sandra G.
With 15 of the original 24 coming forward, the jump-off promised to be hot and didn’t disappoint. Shane Breen set the standard with a quietly smooth round on CSF Vendi Cruz, but was soon overtaken by Jay Halim’s exciting effort on Jaque Mate. But Lauren was tighter and quicker, claiming sharper lines across fences to ease the Zirocco Blue VDL/Emilion eight-year-old mare Ella – who has been placed this year in 2* and 3* 1.40/1.45m classes – to slot into the top spot with 0.80 sec to spare.
However, it was no done deal with several fast riders to follow. And Rachael Connor – on form after qualifying for the HOYS Foxhunter in Scotland at the weekend – was taking no prisoners. She dared the ultra-careful Casantos seven-year-old Fantastic to verticals and oxers alike. They were in contention to the very last oxer, but cross the line just short of the target – 0.03 sec putting them in second place.
“I think she’ll be a really good horse, though she’s a typically sensitive mare. She’s got all the ingredients to make a top horse – a lot of jump and she just wants to please,” said Lauren, 22, who last won here in 128cm pony classes some 12 years ago.
Jay took third on Jaque Mate from Shane’s Vendi Cruz and Alex Thompson provided the steadiest of the double clears for fifth on Cathalina V. Ireland’s Eoin Gallagher posted clear and four for sixth on Princess Leah – two sec slower than the winner.
A delighted Rebecca Marsh raced ahead to claim the SEIB winter novice title with Predator Ridge.
Eight from 23 starters posted first round clears to come forward to the jump-off, although early-drawn Michael Fursedonn must be kicking himself after clearing every fence but picking up one time fault on Nirvana Van’t Vossenhof Z for ninth spot.
Despite a quick time, a fence down in Corinne Collins’ opener on Fabienne C dropped them to an eventual sixth with Nicole Pavitt setting the target on the Arko/Corrado II six-year-old Newtonhill Monaco. It was a short-lived lead for Rebecca immediately found every tight line at smooth, quick pace on the 10-year-old Temple Croesus daughter Predator Ridge to wrest the lead by 1.66 sec.
And there they stayed despite severall challenges, Alister Hippisley Gatherum the nearest rival, slotting the Emilion six-year-old G-Star into second 0.35 sec in arrears. Also double clear was Stephen Lohoar on Idem Dito VD Hemelse Breedte for fourth and Sally Goding in fifth aboard Amy II.
Photos © Jumping Around & courtesy Hickstead/Sian Hayden