Claudia Moore has hit 2018 in sizzling form and just a week after taking two Hickstead 138m tickets in South View’s small pony premier, she returned to head the first of the Charles Britton winter JA class series with Elando Van De Roshoeve.
Twenty-eight tackled course-designer Mark McGowan’s 11-fence track, and although fault came everywhere, the final combination took its toll, and just five remained unscathed to go on to round two. And all five again proved penalty-free to move on to the jump-off, and on-form Madison Heath claiming two chances with Cisco Bay and Air Flow.
Clear rounds proved harder to come by as the clock came into play, and again the combination – now reduced to a double – claimed victims and only last-to-go Claudia provided the much sought-after penalty-free round to take victory on her Liverpool International winner Elando.
“We only started jumping bigger tracks towards the end of last year and I was scared but knew my pony could do it,” said Claudia, who took over in 2017 from Jack Whitaker following his European individual 2016 gold medal win.
“I felt the pressure [with so few clears] and I knew the combination was the fence I needed to concentrate on.”
Perdi Digby, 15, provided the fastest four with the 13-year-old mare Kayleighs Star to take second and Madison’s opening round aboard the 14-year-old Cisco Bay claimed the third and final qualifying place. Madison also picked up fourth with Air Flow and Ffion Roberts finished fifth with Rich Faith.
Fife-based Chloe Templeton topped the winter JC qualifier to guarantee her place in the Hickstead final with the seven-year-old Still Got Me – a HOYS pony newcomer and Foxhunter finalist.
Sixty-six initially jumped the 11-fence track, with these whittled down to 18 then 14 for the final jump-off, but clears again the final round proved scarce and just two treble clears were realised.
Early-drawn Chloe didn’t miss a beat to post a fast, decisive and unbeatable clear with still Got Me.
“I was early to go so I had to go for it and he’s so careful and helps me out,” said Chloe, 15, at her first show back since the Home Pony show at this venue last October – “He had a nice long break.”
Paige Wright survived the final-round drama of a fall from Bombay – the panicked pony with the bridle around his legs ran blind and lapped the arena several times before jumping over the entry gates – to return and jump the only other treble clear with second ride Mullate Duchess. It earned the second qualifying place.
“It was on a different pony, I put it behind me,” said Paige, 12, who benefits from training advice with Ellen and Joe Whitaker.
Harrogate, Yorkshire-based Paige has ridden the six-year-old Duchess – the youngest pony in the class – for the past eight months although the mare had taken a back seat last year as Paige concentrated on her 128cm ponies Black Shade of Gold and Jiminy Cricket, both of which jumped at HOYS.
“Duchess is quite feisty and bouncy on the flat, but she concentrates at the fences. I just had to go in and jump a nice clear,” she said.
Faye Sutton’s early attempt on the 10-year-old Lucy Rocks lowered one rail, but their quick time earned the third qualifying spot. Alice Weightman missed out by one on Cindy VI in fourth place, Megan Morris claimed fifth aboard RS Capello and Lily Freeman Attwood took sixth on Capability Brown.
Nicole Lockhead Anderson landed the Blue Chip Pro JC/JA sparkle with Tanya and Maia Andrews’ Beechcomber in an 11-strong decider, winning by 1.30 sec.
“This is his first show back for a few weeks, he’s a lovely, easy pony,” said Nicole, who was away competing with top pony Gangnam Style in Mechelen over Christmas – “Gangnam Style is now on a mini-break, he’ll come back competing next month.”
Ava Vernon jumped into second with Whos Arco and Claudia Moore slotted Shamrock Du Gite and Delflip into third and fourth ahead of Cleo Loizzo in fifth on Banner Girl.
Shaunie Greig’s super-quick opening round on Moonlight Flight earned victory in the 148cm special with almost two sec in hand in the eight-pony jump-off. Ella Quigley rode into second spot on Seamus II with Elizabeth Baker on Adams’ Fancy in third. Tahnia Jordan-Jones eased Ashwey Patchwork Sparrow into fourth ahead of fifth-placed Cleo on Banner Girl and Rachel Proudley in sixth aboard Family Affair.
NB: Qualifications will be updated on the website pending official grading of results.
Photos © Jumping Around