New champions spring into action at the British Showjumping Spring Championships

Monday 25 March 2024

New champions spring into action at the British Showjumping Spring Championships

The British Showjumping Spring Championships, in its second year at the Arena UK Show Centre in Grantham, Lincolnshire, packed competitive sport into four exciting days.  Two riders returned to retain their 2023 titles and two delighted teenagers made dreams come true with brand new rides.

Jessica Rood was attending only her third show with ride of one month Dido Bois Blanc Z, but she pulled out all the stops despite the new partnership’s inexperience to land the Winter Seven-year-old title. “My mum thought it was too big for us and wasn’t going to let me jump it, but we managed to persuade her,” said a jubilant Jess.

Course-designer Nigel Jess set a 12-fence 1.25m track for the 23 participants forward, and nine came up with the right results to access the jump-off.  There were several hard-luck stories as early riders chased the clock, with the final oxer eliciting groans as a rail fell in otherwise sizzling times.  This included Rachel Proudley on Corrindubh Brother In Arms, the only competitor to break the 30 second barrier but had to settle for third.

Jessica Hewitt set the standard from sixth draw with a sensible clear round on Troy Capitama V X and seemingly looked to have claimed the win with the sole double clear. 

Last to go Jess Rood had other ideas and maximised on her final draw with Dido Bois Blanc Z, clipping 1.25 seconds off the time for victory.

The Diamant De Semilly x Calido mare was purchased one month earlier through trainer Steven Whitaker, but it wasn’t without drama as the Rood family travelled out to Spain to view her.

“We missed our flight but luckily managed to catch a later one – it was well worth it,” said Jess’s Mum Dawn. 

Jess loves the new purchase – “She’s sassy and a diva!”

Harry Bateman lifted the Winter Six-year-old title for the second consecutive year.  After winning the 2023 title on Maverick II, he guided Strike A Pose III into the top spot in this year’s competitive jump-off.

The field of 39 were reduced to 20 over an 11-fence 1.20m course for the timed second round, Harry claiming two of the rides.  He sliced corners at pace in the latter stages of to take the win by only 0.15 seconds on Strike A Pose.  Harry’s earlier ride Louis Van Overis finished into third, sandwiching Rachel Proudley’s Cicerdora into second.

Harry has ridden the Pankake x Cellano Z mare Strike A Pose for owner/breeders Vicky and Kirsty Golding for 12 months.

“She’s got an outgoing personality with a big character which she puts into her mega-talented jump,” said Harry, who will aim Strike A Pose at the Prestige Italia Big Star Six-year-old series and Newcomers Second Rounds.

Michaela Scott secured victory in the Winter Grade C Final with her husband Sam Scott’s powerful, big-jumping Eddie G Z.

“He’s amazing, unbelievably careful and so much scope he makes it feel easy, I’ve never had a horse like him,” said Michaela, on the Echo Van’t Spieveld x Jodokus eight-year-old.

The 25 starters were reduced to five clear rounds by the 12-fence 1.30m track with second-drawn Michaela making short work of the jump-off to forge into the lead.  Jessica Quine supplied the only other double clear in the final draw to ease Lalu TW into second place four seconds off the pace and Daniella Johnston was the fastest of the four-faulters for third with Koning Albert.

Michaela purchased Eddie – who contended three HOYS National Finals last year – as a three-year-old from Darren Smith.

“He looked promising, but you never really know as he took time to produce.  He wasn’t at all competitive, so I took my time and he came into his own last year,” said Michaela, who is now looking at bigger classes.  “I moved Eddie up to Winter Grand Prix level this season and he finished second at Addington’s Winter Classic.  Now, I’d like to step up to world ranking classes and we also have Foxhunter second rounds to contend this summer.”  

Emma-Jo Slater had one class and one aim, to retain the NAF Five Star Winter Silver League Final, won last year with Kim Barzilay’s home-bred Kimba Flamenco.  She did it in style, claiming the title for the second consecutive year on another of Kim’s home-breds, Kimba Time.

“It’s always nice to win but even more so on a home-bred and I wanted to win the title for another year,” said Buckinghamshire-based Emma-Jo, who made the day a family one as daughter Kiera was competing in the Bronze League Final.    

With three of the 45 starters and her previous form, Emma-Jo was considered one of the favourites and brought two into the jump-off, both home-bred and out of the same mare, former Grade A and Heartbreaker daughter Jessica Du Warchet. 

Emma-Jo got an early look-see of the jump-off course with first ride Kimba Costello, returning the fastest time of the 20-strong decider but at the expense of a lowered rail.  She made no mistake on second ride Kimba Time, the Time Out M sired eight-year-old answering every call to win by 0.65 seconds.    

“We try to pick and choose the right horses for this class and she is usually the bridesmaid, not the bride but this time she was the star,” said Kim.

Jessica Quine slotted Lalu TW into second and Tamsin Conyers filled third place riding West Life.

Abi Leadbetter set off at an incredible pace and scythed ultra-tight turns to lift the NAF Five Star Bronze League Final on the eager Hearts Cruise. 

A total of 48 competitors tackled the 12-fence 1.05m course with 13 combinations returning for a highly competitive, risk-taking jump-off.  The lead changed several times with Lindsey Craggs holding onto the top spot with Lydia Van Opstee.  Until Abi entered the arena.

Setting off at the gallop on the sharp, feisty nine-year-old Hearts Cruise (Corrado G x Heartbreaker), Abi maintained the momentum in a series of tight turns, risking just one stride off the double and the final oxer to wipe 0.76 seconds from the leading time.  It was the second major title this pair have tucked under their belt; they claimed the National Amateur 1.10m championship at Aintree Equestrian Centre last November.

“’Zi’ is an incredible mare, a little crazy at times but we know each other so well and she seems to get faster every year.  She was called Ziva the Diva when I bought her four years ago which I didn’t think suited her – I soon found out it did but we know how to handle her and keep her calm and hopefully stress-free,” said Darlington, County Durham-based Abi, who beat Lindsey Craggs into second place – “I compete against Lindsey regularly – it’s very fast and competitive up North!”

Abi, who grooms for Chloe Page – “She’s an understanding and supportive employer who generously allows time off for competing at shows,” – is aiming for HOYS again this year.

“We were sixth last year and I’d like to win in 2024,” added Abi, who also has the Blue Chip Championships and the Amateur and Veterans Championships in mind.  “I kept her ticking over and got my Blue Chip qualification for the Star Final and she’s had an easier time since.”

Billy Colclough’s efforts in the final draw on Here I Am Squbs earned third place.

Rosie Smith made her very first show with her mother Holly’s rides, dominating the top two places in the Winter Children on Horses Final aboard Tania Wareham’s Azolette and TJ Hall’s Fruselli.

Rosie had already fired a warning shot across the bows by claiming the top two in the earlier qualifier, and she maintained her form with two of the initial three clears over the 11-fence 1.25m track.  First off with the handsome 14-year-old Zambesi stallion Fruselli – twice winner of 2* 1.45m classes and second in a 4* 1.45m out in Spain with Holly earlier in March – Rosie set a strong target.  And she knew she had won when rival Ted Bastian-Mason returned a steadier clear three seconds in arrears on RS Chacco Bay. 

But Rosie didn’t rest on her laurels, guiding the 10-year-old mare Azolette (Commisaris x Concorde) – bred in Britain by Liane Smith – into victory, 0.44 seconds separating the two.

“I have to thank Tania and TJ Hall for allowing me to ride these lovely horses,” said Rosie, 13, who is targeting the Children on Horses European Championships and hopes to impress selectors in the coming months as well as continuing to compete on her pony.  “Mum [Holly] told me to keep them both forward and in a nice rhythm and that made it quite easy.

“They are different, Azolette likes herself and is quite opinionated, but Fruselli is quiet, sleepy and friendly.”   


Photo Credit Suzanne Jones

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