‘I wouldn’t have picked myself to win’: surprise winner of 1.40m title at British Showjumping national championships

  • There might have been long odds on Joe Trunkfield and the relatively green eight-year-old Idwerd beating some of the country’s top combinations to the national 1.40m title at the British Showjumping national championships (3-10 August) — but they propelled themselves to a 0.48sec victory with a brilliant round from final draw.

    “From the start list I wouldn’t have picked myself, it shows what a good horse he is,” Joe said. “There were so many good horse and rider combinations chasing a (Horse of the Year Show) wild card, and we just came for a jump round.”

    A technical first round characterised by short distances to big, square oxers had allowed 20 of the 79 starters to progress to the deciding phase.

    First-to-jump Joseph Fernyhough and the nine-year-old Calcourt Particle had set an impressive target with a quick clear in 40.91sec.

    Adrian Speight and Millfield Baloney then delivered a bold try, setting the fastest time of the class in 38.79sec, but at the expense of a rail. It was Jack Whitaker and Elucar VE who looked to have laid hands on the title, when they took a stride out on the final distance to jump clear in 39.87sec.

    The closest any of the ensuing combinations could come to the target was when Karl Robins and G Camille HBF equalled Joseph Fernyhough’s time from their midfield draw and the championship seemed a foregone conclusion before the final partnership entered the ring.

    But Joe and the Dexter R stallion took it to the wire, edging ahead as their forward distances all fell into place.

    “I didn’t plan to go for the win, I just planned to beat the fences,” Joe said. “But every time we landed there was a stride there to go on. It all came off over the last three fences, there were big distances but every time they came up.

    “He is really careful and really brave, I just get him there and let him jump the jumps,” he added.

    Joe took over the ride this year from owner John Steels, who has produced him since he was a two-year-old, and the partnership have had a strong season, qualifying for both the Foxhunter and talent seekers finals at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).

    The national 1.40m final was one of three classes at the championships where riders can accrue points to qualify for the international classes at HOYS in October but Idwerd has not been put forward for contention.

    “He’s had a busy eight-year-old year qualifying and I didn’t want to put that much pressure on him, we just brought him for a jump round in an atmosphere before HOYS and he exceeded expectations,” he said.

    “As for the [Foxhunter and talent seekers] finals now, who knows. I think he has proven here that he can take on the calibre of horses and calibre of fences.

    “He’s always been a consistent horse and has never really had a bad round,” he added. “Two or three weeks ago we took him cross-country schooling and since then he has been on really good form — he won a couple of 1.40ms at Arena UK and qualified for talent seekers. I think when you’ve got an eight-year-old stepping up, to see something different can do them the world of good.”

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