Lauren Wilkins makes her HOYS debut a winning one in the Pony Foxhunter Championship
Friday 06 October 2023
“I can’t believe it, I’m so overwhelmed, I never thought this would happen,” said an emotional Lauren Wilkins, after winning the Pony Foxhunter title on Eloclea Ro. Del Colle San Marco on her first visit to Horse of the Year Show.
Twenty-one riders faced course-designer Ben Townley’s 12-fence 1.25m track with six riders coming up with all the right answers to gain access to the jump-off. And riders were chasing the clock from the start with the rounds increasingly faster as the class progressed.
Newly-crowned Leading Pony Showjumper of the Year Hollie Gerken was in the hunt on Jennifer Hudson’s Westside Mirah 11-year-old Ballycarrow Mirahs Sparrow. The pair had already gained experience in this arena with second in the Blue Chip Pony Newcomers and were out to go one better and they beat the leading time with more than a second to spare.
The lead was short-lived. Lauren immediately followed on Eloclea and set sail, utilising the mare’s big stride and risking tight inside turns. However, Lauren chose to go round to the vertical two from home and the crowd’s collective heart skipped a beat when Eloclea popped in a short stride to the penultimate vertical, drawing gasps from the audience. But she hopped over it without touching a pole and cleared the final vertical on an angled turn with a flourish to wrench the win from Hollie’s grasp by almost two seconds.
“She’s amazing and really covers the ground. Hollie was quick and I had to get the turns in and try but I know she has a big stride and she’s so good at turning tight, I knew I could do it,” said Lauren, 15, who is in her final pony year.
Lauren started riding aged three but travelled a long way to find the right 148cm pony.
“I was moving off 138cm ponies and we were looking for a 148cm and went all the way to Italy after seeing Eloclea advertised on Facebook almost two years ago. It was a gamble, but it paid off,” said Lauren. “She can be wild and is always buzzy in the ring but she’s easy to ride and relaxes at home.”
HOYS, NEC, Birmingham – 6 October, 2023
Enablelink Ltd Pony Foxhunter Championship
1st Lauren Wilkins & Eloclea Ro. Del Colle San Marco – 0/0 - 31.77 seconds
2nd Hollie Gerken & Ballycarrow Mirahs Sparrow – 0/0 - 33.64 seconds
3rd Amy Cass & Miss Texas – 0/0 - 34.85 seconds
Image: 1st Class Images