Eloise Squibb landed victory in a hard-fought jump-off to snatch winning qualification in the Charles Britton Equestrian Construction winter JA Classic with Rudgeway Maestro at South View’s winter pony premier.
Twenty-six tackled course-designer David Cole’s 12-fence track and just five found all the right answers to go forward to round two. One was lost on the way for a four-way decider in the final round against the clock and Eloise set a sizzling standard in the opening round which could not be beaten – although it was close with just 0.52 sec separating the top three.
“I was in exactly the same position at Aintree two weeks ago – first to go but had the last fence down and missed out qualifying for the final by one place,” said Eloise, who was determined it she wouldn’t repeat the mistake.
“I knew I had to be quick but I had to be clear. ‘Mouse’ is naturally quick and careful and we went in and pulled it off.”
The 14-year-old Mouse was acquired in May last year and the pair quickly established a rapport and qualified for the Hickstead JC final and HOYS newcomer and Foxhunter finals.
“He has plenty of character. He’s a bit of a Joker, always knocking something over or nudging me and asking for treats,” she added.
Maddie Heath followed and came within 0.46 sec of the time to slot the 16-year-old Cisco Bay into second place. Maddie now has two ponies through to the final at South View’s Spring Pony Finals in April after qualifying Flavia with a win at Aintree two weeks earlier. Job done.
Last to go Jenny Billington slotted Faith X into third for the final qualifying spot and Elissa Herrmann finished fourth with new ride of three months Lapislazuli.
And Jenny, 16, was in the frame in Sunday’s Winter JA Classic with new ride Merlijn VD Bisschop – a Christmas present spotted and tried in Sentower Park, Belgium, at the end of last year.
Just four of the 21 starters found all the right answers to move forward to round two where the final fence fell for Sebastian Marmont and Danubertha to leave them in fourth leaving three to fight it out against the clock.
First off Elyssa Herrmann hit the final oxer on Lapislazuli to leave the door open. And Jenny took full advantage, using Merlijn’s scope and stride to forge into the lead with a clear. And when last-to-go Megan Li opted for a steady clear and second place on Harry, victory belonged to Jenny.
“He’s very different to Faith, more coupled and sensitive and can be a bit of a ‘Jack the Lad’ as he was gelded late, but he’s very scopey. This is only the third time he has ever jumped at this level and the first weekend we have jumped the JA Winter Classic,” said Jenny, on the Flipper D’Elle/Nabab De Reve eight-year-old – “He was bred as a horse but just didn’t grow.”
Tabitha Kyle secured the top spot in Saturday’s winter JC with Nightgirl Van Het Sonnishof Z. Twelve of the 46 starters contended round two and such was the quality only one was dropped with 11 going through to the final decider.
Fifth in Tabitha, 12, executed all the turns to take the win by 0.65 sec on the Belgian-bred eight-year-old.
“She’s very good at turning tight but I have to settle her as she can be buzzy but she’s improving all the time,” said Tabitha, who contended last year’s Hickstead JC final and HOYS newcomer and Foxhunter with this mare.
Luli Loveridge finished second on Latinka TJ Van Overis with Jake Myers on Oakley III in the third qualifying place. Elysia Heagren Bond finished fourth on Attyrory Golden Lady with Olivia Banks providing the steadiest of the treble clears for fifth aboard Veo D’Aunon.
Daisy Williams left the best until last to secure the winter JC and Hickstead qualification in Sunday's class with King III.
The 46 starters were reduced to 20 for round two and halved for the jump-off with 10 going against the clock in the third and final round. Thomas Hooper set an early and quick standard with Intention Eez and seemingly set an unbeatable target as poles fell with depressing regularity.
But Daisy set sail on the careful Dutch-bred 10-year-old to wipe 0.59 sec off the time in the final draw.
“He has the heart of a lion and helps me out if I’m less than accurate; he’s got the heart of a lion and I let him run at the last,” said Daisy, 14, who acquired King three and a half years ago.
The pair were Hickstead finalists last year and King finished second in the HOYS 2019 newcomers, runner-up only to Daisy’s other ride Bermudez BDA.
Thomas finished second to also take a Royal International finalist pace with Charlotte Bevan on Champs Palace in third and Kathleen Doyle produced the only other treble clear for fourth with Catherston Nutsafe.
Grace Sinclair, 14, made the journey from Devon worthwhile as she returned triumphant in an eight-pony jump-off to take the Blue Chip Pro Sparkle on Crème De La Crème with more than four sec in hand.
“He’s whizzy and pulls me into a fence; he likes to run and backs himself off,” said Grace, who acquired the 17-year-old last May.
Grace – who suffers with Type 1 Diabetes – spent 2019 getting to know her Cremello pony before moving up to this level.
Noora von Bulow eased Shamrock Du Gite into second with Rachel Proudley taking third on Quilitymaes Z and Sam Martin in fourth riding Machno Romulus.
Tabitha maintained her winning form with victory in Saturday’s 1.10m and the concluding Voltaire Design coral/1.10m. She took the top spot in the initial 1.10m by 1.81 sec with the Dutch-bred 13-year-old Hietvelds Bjorn and third aboard Atomic Du Bary, sandwiching Rachel Proudley and Beech Comber into second.
The Irish-bred 11-year-old Dark Silk came to the top in the coral/1.10m for Tabitha with a 0.38 sec advantage over Maddie Heath’s Blidworth Fluffy Duckling. Grace Shuddall Hughes finished third and claimed the top spot of the Voltaire coral with MC Florence.
Elsi Jacques scored a double with the 10-year-old Irish mare Westward Sunshine, taking the 1.15m members cup over Tabitha and Heitvelds Bjorn and topping the 148cm restricted with more than four sec to spare over Grace Shuddall Hughes on Quincy V.
Maddie got the show off to a winning start with a victory double in the pony newcomers and 1m classes. She claimed the pony newcomers win with more than two sec in hand on the six-year-old Luidam/Clinton mare TJ Butterfly over Grace and MC Florence. And Maddie edged ahead by 0.24 sec in the 1m with the 17-year-old mare Blidworths Fluffy Duckling, pushing Olivia Pitt and Peachy into second.
Text and Photos © Jumping Around