Lucia Caroline is on-form at Aintree Equestrian Centre to claim two Agria Royal International places

Tuesday 16 January 2024

Lucia Caroline is on-form at Aintree Equestrian Centre to claim two Agria Royal International places

Lucia Caroline hit top form at the first of the 2024 Small Pony Premier Series to take two coveted Agria Royal International Horse Show qualification tickets at Aintree International Equestrian Centre.

Lucia, 11, proved the best in Sunday’s Winter 128cm Second Round with Desdemone De Marquais. Twenty-six competitors faced course-designer Mark McGowan’s 11-fence 1.05m track, but only four conjured up all the right answers to go forward into round two. These were halved to fill the top two qualifying places on offer in a head-to-head between Lucia and Annabel Widdowson on new ride Daffodil.

First off Annabel set a competitive target with Daffodil, a 15-year-old palomino mare at their sixth show together. Lucia was tighter and quicker, Lee Caroline’s Dutch-bred 11-year-old Desdemone clearing the final oxer with a flourish to land the win by 1.12 seconds.

Lucia picked up her other ticket in Saturday’s equivalent 128cm Second Round, taking second place on Living The Dream. Tabby Morgan-Evans came to the fore with the sole treble clear on Rathcoole Rupert.

Seven of the original 28 competitors successfully negotiated the 10-fence course with four gaining access to the final round against the clock to chase the three Hickstead finalist places on offer, Anya Dewey Clarke claiming two of them.

Lucia set a fast target from opening draw on the 17-year-old Living The Dream, but the first element of the penultimate double of verticals fell, leaving the door open. Tabby, 11, immediately followed with Tiffany Morgan-Evans’ Irish-bred 10-year-old Rupert, taking a similar route but leaving all the fences intact. She remained unchallenged as both Anya’s ponies faulted, although she netted the third qualifying position on the 11-year-old Kilcreene Snap Dragon.

Saturday’s Winter 138cm Second Round was also won on a sole treble clear, Christina Cotton forging ahead on Monica Cotton’s Mayfly Black Pennell to score a handsome victory. Of the initial 30 contenders over the 10-fence 1.15m course, 10 returned to tackle round two, these further reduced to three for the jump-off.

The pressure was off as this class offered three Agria Royal International qualifying places. Christina, 12, set a sizzling target with an early inside turn to take the win from first draw on the 13-year-old Irish-bred gelding Black Pennell with the only clear. Last-drawn Portia Taylor-Wilson beat the time by 0.45 seconds on the eight-year-old mare Whitethorn Smokey but at the expense of a rail at the oxer two from home to take second and Emmie Horner also finished on four faults for third with the nine-year-old Flirt D’Helerin.

A clear wasn’t recorded in the final jump-off of Sunday’s Winter 138cm Second Round, but Raphaela Dawson’s speedy prowess won the day. Seven of the 27 starters came forward in round two and the clock came into major play in the final round with five chasing the two Hickstead qualifying spots. 

No stranger to pressure and winner of the HOYS 2022 128cm title on Jim, first off Raphaela, 13, looked on point to set a strong target but the front rail of the final oxer hit the floor as she galloped through the finish on Karan Dawson’s 17-year-old Noahs Lady, but there wasn’t time to dwell as she had three in the jump-off. But it didn’t go her way and she finished third and fourth on Churchfield Tulla Bluebell and Ardnacashel Little Dreamer, leaving penultimate rider Lucie Williams to slot the 16-year-old Carrowbeg Suzie – who also fell victim to the final fence – into the second and securing the final Hickstead place, albeit 4.63 seconds behind the winning time.

Jamie Lim-Goulder, 12, topped day one’s British Showjumping 128/138cm Handicap Special aboard the 15-year-old 138cm Dizzy Rascal LG with almost eight seconds in hand in an eight-strong decider.  Zachary Bradshaw, 10, provided the only first round clear in Sunday’s equivalent and proved foot-perfect in the jump-off to commandingly win on the 18-year-old 128cm Essenar Jinja Ninja.

 

Image: Lucia Caroline and Desdemone De Marquais.Credit: Majestic Photography

 
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