The atmosphere at the Blue Chip Championships was electric as 13 tackled course-designer Steve Renouard’s formidable grand prix jump-off track.
Keith Shore’s hopes of collecting the £1,000 bonus on offer for winning both Thursday’s A and B and the grand prix died when Stranger faulted, eliciting groans from spectators, who urged crowd-favourites Helen Tredwell and Opportunity B to victory.
Tina Fletcher on Promised Land had already bettered Mark Armstrong’s early lead with Caleta, but Helen and Opportunity B — fresh after a month off — gave enormous leaps over the big fences, drawing gasps from the crowd, to finish over two sec ahead.
“She loves it here,” said Helen, who won this class two years ago, “and the crowd really got behind us. The Blue Chip Championships are a fantastic end to the winter season.”
Back-to-back wins were the order of the day as both Emily Davies and Beth Vernon repeated their 2009 victories.
Emily took up the Blue Chip Dynamic B and C honours on Granita, a 12-year-old who has enjoyed recent success in Norway.
“My mum [Helen] couldn’t see the point of competing one horse when there’s so many to ride at home, but I got up early.” said Emily, “I can’t wait to ring her.”
Winner in 2009 with Falaza, Beth Vernon, 14, retained her Blue Chip Pro Sparkle JC/JA championship, riding Allyson Blagg’s JA Cinderella Girl in a final-round flyer despite JC ponies outnumbering JA’s by two to one.
“She jumps well when she’s being mareish” said Beth, “and she kicked me in the stable yesterday.”
Geoff Luckett was at his speedy best to land the Halsall Electrical 1.25m despite not having sat on Loughnatousa Rafa for a month.
“It’s the way to do it, don’t ride him for a month and then come and win,” said Geoff, who has spent the last four weeks competing in Italy.
Blue Chip Championships results: day three
Blue Chip JC/JA. – 1, Floating Change (L Edwards); 2, Cinderella Girl (B Vernon); 3, Grangeview Iceman (C Duggan). Blue Chip Pro Sparkle JC/JA ch. – 1, Cindrella Girl; 2, Lassbar Royal Mystery (H Rawson-Smith); 3, Tireve Midnight Express (J Cain). Halsall Electrical 1.25m ch. – 1, Loughnatousa Rafa (G Luckett); 2, Trueleva (R Steels); 3, Larkspur (H Tredwell). Blue Chip gp. – 1, Opportunity B (H Tredwell); 2, Promised Land (T Fletcher); 3, Caleta (M Armstrong). Nedz Bed 1.15m. – 1, Exercising Decorum (R Davidson); 2, Utah Van Het Indihof & Inki II (E-J Slater). Halsall Electrical 1.25m. – 1, Cobham Up To Date (C Webley); 2, Warendorf (R Ellis); 3, Co Co Mademoiselle (L Ryan). Horse Health nov. – 1, Rahorn (F Carter); 2, Zula Maeva (M Russell); 3, Casimir II (E-J slater). Nedz Bed 1.15m winter classic final. – 1, Trendsetter Teranimo (R Keevil); 2, Pimosa (H Rees); 3, Tanja (S Stockdale). Horse Health winter classic nov final. – 1, 2 & 3, Kimba Calypso, Cosmic Savannah & Casimir II (E-J Slater).