Locally-based Richard Howley left the best until last to land the Ripon Select Foods Cock o’ the North title with a final round flyer on Chinook to conclude the Great Yorkshire show on a high.
“It was an absolute buzz and a pleasure to win in front of a Yorkshire crowd,” said Irishman Richard, who felt he was ‘home away from home’ at the Harrogate showground which is just 20 minutes from his Wetherby base with partner Morgan Kent and HK Horses.
The 12-fence track – containing the traditional and iconic double of walls especially for this class – reduced the initial entry to 11 for round two with nine coming forward to the third and final round against the clock – which again included the double of walls.
But clears proved harder to obtain and it wasn’t until fifth-drawn James Wilson and Imagine De Muze – who had already shown form in this vast green arena with victory in the International Stairway – that a clean round was evident. And it was fast.
Angelie von Essen opted for a steady clear on the scopey year-old Luikan Q to finish more than eight sec behind but John Whitaker was out for the win and chased hard on Unick Du Francport to gain what could be his eighth title. But it wasn’t to be as he crossed the line just 0.09 sec in arrears of James’ time despite a valiant effort.
Keith Shore’s hopes faded when Mystic Hurricane lowered an early fence but a determined Richard took up the challenge with relish. Flying over the fences to louder and louder urging from the crowd, Richard fired Chinook over the final oxer in front of the grandstand as the spectators erupted into cheers.
“It was an amazing day, Chinook really is a horse of a lifetime,” said Richard on the Tygo/Wellington 12-year-old after securng the £8,000 first prize.
James and Imagine had to settle for second with John and Unick in third while Angelie finished fourth with the steadiest of the clears. Four faults at a midway vertical dropped Mark Edwards and Montreuxs Tale from a possible third to fifth while the other four-faulter Keith and Mystic Hurricane finished sixth. Also in the line-up was Adrian Speight on Millfield Baloney (seventh) and Nigel Coupe (Golvers Hill) and Annabel Shields (Creevagh Carisma) in eighth and ninth.
James and Susan Larson’s Imagine De Muze came to the fore in the International Stairway.
Only one clear was evident in round one over course-designer Michael Bainbridge’s 12-fence track and Helen Tredwell and her home-bred Vangelis S daughter Larksong was joined by four of the fastest faulters to make five for the jump-off carrying their faults. But faulting in the jump-off proved costly for Helen.
James and the Belgian-bred 11-year-old Imagine (Nabab De Reve/Chin Chin) had come home on four faults in round one so there was nothing to lose in the jump-off and the pair sped round leaving all the fences intact this time out to go into the lead. And they remained ahead.
“This is a great warm-up for Hickstead,” said James, who has been selected on to the British squad in the Longines FEI Nations Cup of Great Britain at the Royal International at the end of July.
Adrian Speight – second just a week earlier in Royal Norfolk’s Stairway – improved on his first round four faults to post a jump-off clear with Judith Whitham’s 13-year-old Millfield Baloney to slot into second 2.16 sec behind James.
John Whitaker eased Unick Du Francport, a andor Z 11-year-old he has ridden since March, into third. The pair had left all the fences standing in round one but came home but added four time faults to their score. Nevertheless, they were clear second time out to finish third.
Helen Tredwell was James’ biggest danger but two fences down second time out dropped them into fourth with Harry Wainwright taking fifth on Pinheiro Beech on a total of 10 faults – one time fault from round one and a jump-off score of nine.
Mark Edwards continued with his incredibly successful run on the county show circuit with a hat-trick of wins, the home-bred 13-year-old Tinkers Tale – winner of Kent’s International trial just a few days earlier – the star in all three.
The pair first topped the Badsworth Stakes accumulator in typical flying style, beating Annabel Shields and Rubin VHS into second with Charlie Dawson settling for third on TJM Henry De Reve.
And they went on to claim the Rudding Park Great Yorkshire championship – a 1.40m table C speed (four sec added for a knockdown) – relegating James Smith and The Black Flyer into second with James on Eskola M in third.
Mark notched up his third win in the mini major challenge partnering Lilly Aspell – who matched his speed and enthusiasm on Clooncraha Lady to land the win.
“It was a fabulous day, worth every second of a four and half hour journey and 3am start and my superstar pony was on top form,” said Lilly, who was thrilled to be partnered with ‘speed demon’ Mark.
“We were the dream team,” added Mark.
James Davenport headed the William Hanson stakes over a 1.50m track with Crush, a Swedish-bred 12-year-old with Corlensky G/Cardento bloodlines.
Harry claimed second on Pinheiro Beech and Guy Williams steered Cicero II into third.
Text and Photos © Jumping Around