First major win for Mark in Queen’s Cup Hickstead thriller
Sunday 25 July 2021
Today a new name was added to the historic Science Supplements BHS Queen Elizabeth II Cup, when Mark Edwards took the title for the first time.
It crowned a fabulous week for the Welsh showjumper, who also won Saturday’s RIHS Sussex Stakes. Both wins came courtesy of the 11-year-old homebred, Montreuxs Tale.
Seven out of 46 starters jumped clear in the first round, guaranteeing a competitive jump-off. Kerry Brennan and Wellington M were the only other pairing to jump double clear, finishing in a time of 45.25sec to set the pace. Will Edwards (SHW Candies B) crossed the finish in 42.37sec but the final fence fell to leave them on four faults.
Mark was the penultimate rider to go, and though he finished on the exact same time as Will, crucially he left all the fences standing. When final rider Douglas Duffin also picked up four faults, Mark had won the title that he’d narrowly missed out on winning a few years previously.
In 2019, he had netted the fastest time of the day in the Queen's Cup but knocked the last fence down, relegating him to fourth. This time, luck was on his side, despite a worrying moment at the double when a pole jumped up in the air but landed back in the cups. “I think it’s even more special considering I nearly won it two years ago. I think I had nightmares about that last fence,” said Mark.
After a heatwave for most of the Prenetics Royal International Horse Show, today saw some thundery showers. “Even though it’s raining, the sun is definitely shining on me today! I wasn’t too worried about the conditions, the ground is really good in there and it held up well in the rain, so he really enjoyed it. He’s likes jumping in grass rings and being Welsh, we’re used to the rain,” he added.
“I knew Kerry was quick, and she’s always tough to beat, so I knew I had to be quick and tight everywhere. Luckily it came off for me. It’s been amazing; you come to these shows hoping for one win – so to get two big wins and for one to be the Queen’s Cup, is just a dream,” he added. “That’s the first major title I’ve won, and there’s so many famous names on that trophy. Liz Edgar’s won it so many times, and she was a great friend over the years so it’s very special to me.”
Kerry Brennan and the diminutive Wellington M narrowly missed out on adding another title to their impressive collection. “He just absolutely loves his job; he just tries his heart out. He’s a little horse so he has to try so hard because otherwise he couldn’t do it – he’s only 15.1hh,” she said.
In this morning’s £6,000 Prenetics Royal International Vase, Nicole Lockhead Anderson took the win – bringing her tally of International Arena victories to two jumping classes and one showing championship. This time her win came courtesy of Azolette, who is owned by Tanya and Georgie Wareham. “I’m so grateful to them for letting me ride her – Georgie’s done an amazing job,” said Nicole, who takes over the ride for competitions. “We had her as a six-year-old, and she was quite a hot mare. Georgie’s done so well calming her down and making her a lot more rideable, and it makes my job in the arena so much easier, so I’m very grateful.”
Nicole is the stable jockey for Holly Smith, who is part of Team GB’s showjumping team in Tokyo. “It’s so exciting, and we’re all so pleased for her; there’s no one who deserves it more. Best of luck to the whole team, and hopefully they’ll bring back a medal,” she said.
Today was the final day of the Prenetics Royal International Horse Show, which has been the first Hickstead event to run in front of an audience since 2019. “We’d like to thank everyone who has come to support us this week,” said Hickstead executive director Lizzie Bunn. “It’s been a unique show, with two-star classes instead of our usual five-star competitions, but we’ve been treated to some wonderful sport and it was great to end the show on a high with an excellent renewal of the Science Supplements BHS Queen Elizabeth II Cup.”
For all showjumping results, click here.