Belgium’s Karel Cox sealed victory with a super-fast round on Evert in the leading showjumper of the year grand prix to conclude the 70th anniversary edition of the Horse of the Year Show.
Nine of the 26 starters made it through to the jump-off over course-designer Kelvin Bywater’s technical 12-fence track, including defending champion Nigel Coupe on Golvers Hill. And Nigel was in with a determined shot to retaining his title, wiping more than a sec off Trevor Breen’s opening round aboard Golden Hawk.
Karel set off at a relentless pace, easily slicing corners without a check on the nine-year-old Evert to cross the finish line with an impressive 2.20 sec in hand.
“He wants to be the fastest and it may sound strange but for my horse I went slow and tried to clear the fences. By nature he is quick and he turns very fast, so I really had to take my time and control him to jump the fences,” said Karel, who got the Amadeus/Indoctro gelding at the beginning of the year.
Imminent plans for Evert include the world cup in Oslo next week – “Then he’ll have a few weeks off before we go to Doha for the Global Champions tour."
Nigel Coupe had to settle for second this year on the Ricardo Z 15-year-old Golvers Hill. Trevor and Golden Hawk finished in third just ahead of Michael Whitaker and the talented nine-year-old Valmy De La Lande in fourth. Four faults while chasing the clock dropped other Brits down the line – Matt Sampson claimed fifth on his 2017 Foxhunter champion Ebolensky, Robert Smith finished sixth with Cimano E and Helen Tredwell took seventh on her home-bred Larksong.
West Hants hit the jackpot as they were crowned winners of the Thistledown Developments Pony Club Mounted Games for the Prince Philip Cup. After finishing equal runners-up in 2017, they went one better this time as the competition came to a thrilling close under the spotlight of the Andrews Bowen International Arena.
Trained by Jo Morris, the six-strong team finished on 105 points as they never lost their lead during the final seven games on Sunday that covered such Pony Club favourites as the flag race and sack race.
Second place went to Atherstone on 98 points with North Warwickshire and Oakley Hunt West sharing third place, a further four points back.
Photos © Jumping Around