‘It means a lot to win this class’ – Brit holds her lead in Bramham under-25 championships

  • Emma Thomas showjumped clear to secure top spot in the Defender Bramham Horse Trials results for the under-25 class this morning.

    The British rider held the lead overnight on Pippa Williams and Rebecca Velarde’s The Buzz Factor. She started without a fence in hand after US rider Cassie Sanger (Fernhill Zoro) put in a fault-free round, but Emma matched her to retain first place.

    “I had seen the scores but all day I was saying to everyone, ‘Please don’t tell me what I have or have not got in hand when I go in.’ I just wanted to get into a forward rhythm and of course when I heard everyone cheer that loudly it was like, ‘Oh god’ but once I jumped the first fence, it was fine – but on the way up into the chute I was fairly nervous,” admitted Emma, 24.

    “He felt so good and so sharp, I was really pleased. Even in the warm up he was really quick off the floor and the atmosphere always lifts him. What a star, he was just amazing. He’s like my old slippers and I just love jumping him.

    “It means a hell of a lot to win this class. I love Bramham but I haven’t always been sure Bramham loves me quite so much. I remember watching Badminton as a kid and the commentators always going on about this class and particularly if somebody had won it and gone to Badminton, they said they were going to be a star.”

    Bramham Horse Trials results – Emma Thomas and The Buzz Factor

    Emma Thomas and The Buzz Factor celebrate under-25 victory at Bramham in 2024. Credit: Peter Nixon

    Emma did a biology degree and planned to be a forensic anthropologist, but this is her third season eventing full time.

    “I think it’s taken me until this year to find my way with it a bit because there’s obviously a lot more pressure when you do it full time. The first season I just put so much pressure on myself to do everything perfectly and actually that never pans out. I just let myself enjoy it a bit more this time and I think that’s coming through in the results as well,” she said.

    “I had this horse since I was 16 and he was five and he’s just kept going and forged this whole career for me. I’ve been lucky to be on some amazing programmes as well. I’m on the Performance Mentoring Programme with Caroline Moore at the moment, and she gave me so much of her time last week to make sure I nailed it this week.”

    Bramham Horse Trials results: two contrasting horses

    Cassie Sanger, 19, rode two jumping clears today, piloting Fernhill Zoro to second and Redfield Fyre to fourth with 1.6 time-faults – up one place from fifth overnight.

    She said: “They’re polar opposites and I’m used to it now because they’ve pretty much been going at the same level since I’ve had them. But actually, I found it difficult today as it was only a 15-minute turnaround to go from a 17.3hh horse to my 15hh little guy. So I did find my eye a little bit funky today on Zoro but he just jumps out of his skin.

    “The big one, Redfield Fyre, likes to make meanest faces to anyone – no matter if he loves you or not he’ll try and bite you. He has never really acted on that but he’s just a grumpy guy until you ride him, while the other one is so sweet in the barn. But riding wise, they’re the same personality – they’re just all heart and want to do their best.”

    Cassie has been in Britain around a month, based out of Ruy Fonseca’s yard, as part of the funded European Development Tour for up-and-coming American riders.

    Isabel White, 25, just added 1.6 time-faults to her overnight score with her own Icarcus to retain third place in the Bramham Horse Trials results at her horse’s first CCI4*-L.

    “I’m absolutely thrilled with him – it’s such a big atmosphere and for him to come out and jump like on that last day, I was over the moon with him,” said Isabel. “He’s quite a timid character in the stable. But as soon as you get on him, he comes to life and loves to be centre of attention.”

    Isabel now has a yard at home after four or five seasons working for Judy Bradwell.

    Last year’s runner-up Tom Bird, riding Cowling Hot Gossip this time, had fences 1 and 9a down, as well as 2.8 time-faults to drop one spot to fifth.

    Ireland’s Molly Evans and Wellan Graffiti knocked four fences and incurred 2.4 time-faults to finish sixth.

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