Abi Leadbetter made an impression on her first shot at a senior championships when she partnered Hearts Cruise to the Equissage Pulse British novice title and came second in the Nupafeed Supplements discovery final at the British Showjumping national championships (3-10 August).
Abi, 17, and the 15.1hh mare took the win in strong company, finishing more than 1sec ahead of Emma-Jo Slater and Kalisha H, while Bex Mason collected third place with Rarity.
“I’ve never won a national title before, although I’ve qualified often in the pony classes, so I wanted to win for once and I hoped I had the perfect little horse to do it,” Abi said.
“I watched Emma go into the lead and thought ‘yeah, that’s quite quick’, although I thought I could still win it. When I went in, I knew she still had another ride to come so I thought I might as well ride my own jump off and set something for people to chase — and we did.
“The others are always going to beat us across the ground as she takes so many more strides — she chipped two in at the one stride double — but I was able to make up the time by going the same route but turning more easily, as she is so little,” she added.
The A-level student was all the more determined to claim the title after losing the discovery championship by just 0.81sec to Monica Ballard the previous day.
“I was drawn early — seventh out of 25 — in the discovery final so all I could do was set something for them to chase and I went into the lead by 7sec,” she said.
“Monica ended up winning it, and everyone knows she is so quick, so I just held my hands up and thought ‘fair enough’, I couldn’t do anything about that — but today I just really wanted to do it.”
Abi bought the six-year-old mare in June last year and they have gone on to early success despite having a stop-start campaign with national lockdowns.
“I first saw her ad on Facebook and once I saw some videos of her, I just loved her,” Abi said. “When we went and tried her it took her 20 mins to get on and she pulled back twice on the yard and snapped two lead ropes — I think the girl selling her thought ‘they’re never gone to buy her’.
“I knew she was a mare and was just being quirky and she’s settled down into her job really well, she knows what to do and gets on with it.”
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