Cerys Withey is crowned champion at Aintree


Gala night, parties, camaraderie, champagne-spraying podium presentations and showjumping – the popular Dodson & Horrell National Amateur and Veteran Championships was a fun-filled week for all – and a lucky few came away with rugs and sashes.

Cerys Withey, 18, made the journey from Kent to Liverpool worthwhile as she pulled off the tightest of turns to bag the 1.10m national amateur title with Apart EA.

A total of 16 from the 40 starters made it through to the jump-off over course-designer Mark McGowan’s track but no-one could catch Cerys. She forged ahead on the Dutch-bred 14-year-old ‘Bryan’ to take the win with more than two sec in hand. Hannah Tiley netted second spot with Amaryllis III.

“I’ve been competing in the bronze league this year,” said Cerys, who fit in her showjumping around her job in construction. “Bryan is fast and ultra-careful so I can always trust him in a jump-off, I just needed to keep him in a forward rhythm and complete the turns I’d planned.”

Julia Helm guided Hems Rosso into third with Colleen Miller in fourth aboard Bas II. Sebastien Poirier jumped into fourth on Chaplin De Hus Z and Sinead Cox filled sixth spot on Cando 6.

Aintree is a somewhat favourite venue for Jenna Cairns and after heading the second round qualifier here in October, she made a triumphant return to take the 1.05m national amateur championship with Wonderful III.

The field of 45 was whittled down to 20 for the jump-off, and although only six provided double clears, the race to win was nonetheless hot. Jenna secured the win by 0.43 sec despite Lucy Gilsenan’s best efforts and she had to settle for second on Qui Qui.

The Odermus R 16-year-old mare Wonderful [aka Jess] has been with Jenna for the past six years.

“I’m on a gap year to concentrate on my riding and finished fifth in this class in 2017 and was determined to do better this time,” said Jenna. “Jess has jumped great all week and I knew I could rely on her to pull off the turns as she is so careful.”

Sam Baker rode NPS Flintoff Blue into third ahead of John Shaw in fourth aboard Erino B while Sarah Holmes on Sir Cassiano and Josh Haynes with Stornoway IV filled fifth and sixth places.

Lorna Simpson claimed the concluding 95cm national amateur championship with Zilver Bling as the popular championships drew to a close on Sunday evening.

Fifty-three hopefuls started in this final and 22 kept their chances alive with a first round clear with Lorna flying ahead to take the top spot by 1.22 sec on the 14-year-old mare she has competed for the past four and a half years. Jasmine Gill came the closest for second place on Roundthorn Firebrand.

“I am so shocked. I’ve had the best week with two horses here, winning a qualifier on each one but I really didn’t think I stood a chance of winning. I hadn’t planned on jumping in the championships but I thought I’d give it a go and kept telling myself to ride like normal and it seemed to have paid off,” said Lorna.

Marion Brown rode Summer Solstice V into third ahead of Anna de Vertueil in fourth and seventh with Victory II and Bonita II. Joanne Burns Firth took fifth aboard Tempting Business and Fiona Little claimed sixth with Varlet.

An on-form Georgina Beeson fired a warning shot by dominating the second round qualifiers and duly followed up with victory in the 85cm national amateur title on Jazzy Footwork.

Sixty-three originally qualified for the championship final with over half reaching the jump-off. And it was all about the clock as 15 provided double clears but Georgina found the shortest of routes to come home with 0.34 sec in hand on the 13-year-old Irish-bred mare. Sophie Corney had to settle for second place with Ocean Breeze II.

Georgina has ridden Jazzy Footwork for four years.

“This is our first championship win. I feel like I’ve been knocking on the door for a long time and knew I had to go for it to win,” said Georgina.

Ellie Bates claimed third on In The Limelight III with Ben Fairbrother’s Mr Monkey Puzzle fourth, Kirsty Oliver finished fifth on Roque Don Du Bien and Abigail Groves was sixth on Taal.

Mark Thompson headed the minor veterans championship with seasoned campaigner Hunky Dory III.

Mark is no stranger to victory at Aintree, this pair claimed the 1.05m amateur title two years ago and the on-form partnership also topped the accumulator immediately following the minor veterans final. He made short work of the jump-off to gain the 34-strong minor veteran final with the Ard VDL Douglas/Ard Ohio 12-year-old mare he has ridden since her British novice days back in 2011.

“She really is Miss Consistent. I didn’t come here expecting to win but I knew if she kept up her reputation we’d do well and everything seemed to go to plan,” said Mark. “I enjoy this show; it’s well run and I always seem to do well here.”

Jo Fennell steered Bantasia into second with Alistair White in third on Hanleen O Tess. Kath James claimed fourth on Isidoor with Julia Hardy’s Misty Blue fifth and Laura Jane McCabe filled sixth spot on Easy Money Z.

Mark also claimed second in the Hazelden 1.15m challenge on Silvarno, beaten into the runner-up spot by Lucinda Stewart and the Obourg 13-year-old Glow DK. Jassy Pyke finished third on Bon Amego and Lucy Gilsenan filled fourth with Mid Summer Rose.

Julia Hardy was crowned major veteran riders champion with her British-bred Je T’Aime Flamenco nine-year-old Mista Blue. Kath James provided the only other double clear for second 0.95 sec in arrears on the handsome Cicero 12-year-old Herciro Van’t Kiezelhof with Veterinary surgeon Campbell Thompson in third on Haughton Archie.

“It’s great to win here on a horse I’ve produced myself since a just-backed four-year-old. We had a challenging start to the week as my lorry broke down on the way so I had to borrow my sister’s lorry and travel up on separate occasions, but it was worth it,” said Julia.

Anna de Verteuil landed the 1m mini veteran championship with Bonita II, the 18-year-old Toulon daughter claiming a 1.29 sec advantage over Kathy Cumming on Auburn Elite. Carol Gleave finished third on Bellatrix IV with Richard Baker in fourth on Little Em and Julie Shaw was fifth on Queen Mary.

Jassy Pyke claimed victory in the 90cm micro veteran championship with the nine-year-old mare Wood Field Clover to deny Anna and Bonita a second win by the tiniest of fractions – just 0.01 sec separating the two. Anna also claimed fourth on Victory, sandwiching Jo Fennell’s Bantasia into third.

Heather Brown with Bolero Del La Vallee teamed up with Takara Gregson on Billy Rubens to take victory in the fun-filled pairs competition. Devon Grimes on Miss Silver Dollar and Victoria Jacobs with Edessa II finished second and Gemma Fronda aboard Fergal Booster joined forces with Jake Fronda and Fergal Fantasia to take third.

Ceri Chapman seized the 1.15m challenge final on the 13-year-old Dellrose Rosie, pushing Hannah Tiley’s Capistelle JX into second. Mark Thompson piloted Larino Z into third with Lucy Gilsenan’s Mid Summer Rose fourth and Blue Collier in fifth aboard Femme II.

Southerly Roberts and her consistent working hunter turned showjumper Tinx topped the 1m challenge final in style from Sophie Corney in second on Stanhopes Good Friday. Megan White steered Waydeste into third with Anna and Victory II in fourth ahead of Lucy on Qui Qui fifth and sixth-placed Jassy with Wood Field Clover.

Text and Photos © Jumping Around

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