The Land Rover Ladies Jumping Championship, which has been reinstated along with its Jaguar-sponsored men’s counterpart, proved an impressive opening to the evening floodlit performance at Windsor yesterday.
It is somewhat overshadowed by the men’ championship in stature – less prize money, fewer entrants, and less of a prime time slot – but the atmosphere was as tense, and the competition as focussed.
There were just 14 entrants, and the first round quickly sorted out the champions among them in this event. Bar after bar rattled to the floor, and only two competitors, Lisa Ashe on Cosmic Lady and Vicky Young on her own Corleone Two successfully negotiated the demanding track.
Just one other competitor, Claire Robertson on Retreat’s Uppercut finished on four faults, with the majority of riders knocking down two or more. Jane Annett, who has unquestionably been the most in-form lady show jumper in the other feature jumping competitions at Windsor, had three fences down on Cullawn Diamond, with whom she was fifth in the Land Rover Grade A competition on Thursday.
The jump-off was therefore a short affair, but a twisting track could have been the downfall of Lisa Ashe, who has a prosthetic left leg, and the turns were all in the ‘wrong’ direction. She was quick, though, and accurate over the big fences, and rode an absolutely beautiful clear round on the DWL Home Improvement-owned mare, proving her extreme skill and courage.
Vicky Young couldn’t match it, and although her time was faster, she paid the price, and finished with four faults and in second place.
Lisa produced Cosmic Lady herself “from scratch”, and rides her in the Royal Windsor Grand Prix later today. If she can reproduce yesterday evening’s form, she will stand a good chance of winning some of the £12,500 prize money.
In the men’s and ladies’ championships yesterday, it was the racing connections that held sway. Robert Bevis, winner of the men’s championship, trains racehorses in his spare time, and indeed is barely to be seen at a show during the winter, National Hunt season. Meanwhile, Lisa Ashe’s husband, Kevin, is a member of the Dee Syndicate, who own 2003 Grand National winner Monty’s Pass, and has a further 60 horses in training.
Land Rover Ladies Jumping Championships result
1. Cosmic Lady (Lisa Ashe) 49.63, 0 faults;
2. Corleone Two (Vicky Young) 45.54, 4 faults;
3. Retreat’s Uppercut (Claire Robertson) 87.25*, 4 faults*;
4. Woodlands Millvale (Jenny Cassan) 94.56*, 6 faults*;
5. Make Haste (Louise Pavitt) 82.36*, 8 faults*;
6. Pamone (Louise Whitaker) 87.42*, 8 faults*.
* first round