Jessica Howard makes it two out of two


Jessica Howard is enjoying an incredible run of success at the British Showjumping National Championships at Stoneleigh, and 24 hours after winning the members cup final on Rocky Robin, she topped the Blue Chip pony newcomer masters aboard Tinkas Gentleman Jim.

“I only came for two classes and won them both! My boys have given me everything over the past two days,” said an overwhelmed but delighted Jessica, who also secured the top HOYS qualifying spot to register another finalist place at the NEC – they are already through to the Foxhunter.

Sixteen reached the jump-off and, with Jessica in the final draw, she knew exactly what she had to do. She had missed out on HOYS qualification several times during the season, including by one place at the recent Wales and West pony premier meeting the week before. And she did it in style, claiming the HOYS place and victory by an impressive four sec on the 15-year-old Gentleman Jim.

“I’m so excited to be going to HOYS! I went into the round with no game plan and decided to just see how he jumped over the first fence; if he was a bit backwards then I’d fire him up but if he jumped well I’d keep him settled. He jumped so well and I am so proud of him,” said Jessica, with tears of joy.

Jessica also credited her trainer Mark McGowan – at Bishop Burton as course-designer at the pony European championships – but he was on he phone offering invaluable advice.

Alena Hughes rode the 11-year-old Alena’s Ennistymon into second with Izzi Ryder on the seven-year-old Cuilin Dun in third. Tatiane Mauree jumped into fourth on the eight-year-old mare Horseabout Zibu with Courtney Young fifth on the seven-year-old Bacardi III, Sinead Cox claimed sixth on the Irish-bred nine-year-old Lislan Cruising Lady and Jodie Burchmore Eames jumped into seventh on the six-year-old Mighty Mouse W Van De Dauwhoeve.

Connie Mensley emerged victorious in a head-to-head with William Stewart to top the silver league 128cm final.

Only two clears were produced from 16 starters, first to go Connie posting another clear on the 11-year-old coloured mare to put the pressure on William. It worked. William was six sec faster on Billibob but a rail down handed Connie the win.

Connie – who celebrated her ninth birthday the week before – has just moved up to 1m tracks with Sienna, her ride of two and a half years.

“She used to be naughty but now I’m older and stronger, we get along much better,” said Connie, who is based at the family-owned equestrian centre in Leicestershire.

It was a feeling of déjà vu for the two rivals. Both Connie – this time with Madonna – and William with the 14-year-old Billibob are through to the HOYS 128cm final after qualifying in a similar scenario as the only clears at the Scottish pony premier. William also takes Soxs Pocket Rocket.

Emily Page took third on Thistledown The Graduate and Phoebe Boocock finished fourth on Parkour I.

The on-from Izabella Rogers – winner of the Hickstead 128cm championship with the only clear round on Whinney Lass – registered another win in the silver league 138cm final, this time riding Shaman Sundance.

Six of the 19 starters came forward to a fast and furious jump-off with Chelmsford, Essex-based Izabella, 10, negotiating tight turns and tricky lines to land the top spot on the Appaloosa 12-year-old Sundance with 3.63 sec to spare.

Ella Hall claimed second on the coloured 13-year-old Calusa with Natasha Hamilton aboard Aristo Justice in third and Evie Tight finished fourth on Country Town Kasey.

Niki Mitchell registered her biggest win with pony British novice title on Lucca II.

A mammoth 96 entries initially contended this class and an eventual 10 double clears were recorded. But Niki dismissed any pressure to slice all the turn options to the quick and risked a gallop to the final fence.

“I just wanted to go in and smash it!” said Manchester-based Niki, who has ambitions to compete at Horse of the Year Show with the 14-year-old Lucca, a ride she acquired 12 months ago.

Jenna King claimed second on Western King with Lucy Spittle’s Brecklyns Not a Problem in third. Abigail Leadbetter guided Sean II into fourth ahead of fifth-placed Evie Tighe on Annod Welsh King and Olivia Morrett aboard Aherlow Fred in sixth.

Charlie Clapham landed the Stepping Stones 138cm final with the 19-year-old Little Madam II in his first season at affiliated competition.

Fifty-eight starters were reduced to nine by a stiff course, the first fence and a double of verticals catching out the majority. But a determined Charlie left no-one in doubt, executing tight turns a t a premium pace to win by 2.15 sec, the coloured mare proving she is back to form following a ligament injury.

“She injured her check ligaments after the boys went for a hack and thought they were jockeys on racehorses! She was out for a year but the staff at Wellington Riding in Hampshire did a fantastic job of her rehab, including using a water treadmill to help her recovery,” explained Charlie’s mum, Annabell.

Little Madam was feeling on top form.

“She is quite strong and feisty, she took off when she came out of the lorry this morning and towed mum about 50m along the grass, but she is really nice,” chipped in Charlie. “I got my new jacket in the post yesterday and I won wearing it today, so now it’s my lucky jacket!”

Hook, Hampshire-based Charlie was supported by his family at this event, including his father, who had flown back specially from Tryon where he will be cross-country controller for the 2018 World Equestrian Games.

Amelia McGinty finished second on the Irish-bred eight-year-old Bobbys Girl with Adele Shaw on Manor Pearl in third and Bethany Garwood claimed fourth on Tynan Sandy Lane. Emma Perrett was fifth aboard Whizzie Socks and Shauna-Lee Ross took sixth with Princess Darcy.

Emily Irvine outpaced all to take the Stepping Stones 128cm championship on the 17-year-old schoolmaster Bunbury Conquest.

It was no mean feat, 26 of the 71 starters reached the jump-off but Emily, 9, negotiated calculated tight turns to take victory.

We wanted to focus on riding a quality, flowing jump off with good turns; Questy is very scopey and his stride eats the ground up so we knew we had a good chance,” said Emily, who won with 1.49 sec to spare.

Emily, who is based in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, started her riding career aged three in showing classes and took over the reins on ‘Questy’ from Charlie Atkinson after HOYS last year.

“We’re very indebted to the Scott Family who called us and asked if we wanted to ride Questy. Of course, we immediately said yes and he arrived at ours in October last year. We’ve been taking it steady in order to get to know him better but he has been absolutely incredible and we are very privileged to have such a wonderful pony,” said Emily’s mum Alison.

Peter Ashe jumped the 18-year-old Woodpark Pippa into second with Isabelle Harris and Miss Rosie D in third. Grace Campbell eased Gurnos Welsh Melanie into fourth with Abigail Wicks fifth on Little Poppet and Liala Ramaci finished sixth on Arrogan Emily TR.

Photos © 1st Class Images/courtesy Grandstand Media

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