Return of the champions: partnership scoop second consecutive British Showjumping national championship title

  • Last year’s pony British novice champions Oliver Sponer and Conella II went one further when they claimed in pony discovery title at the 2021 British Showjumping national championships (3-10 August).

    They delivered the quickest of just three double clears to beat 80 other combinations to the win, heading the class by more than a second over runners up Sophia Taylor and Falcons Poppy.

    The championship was a step down for this seven-year-old mare, who has also claimed both newcomers and Foxhunter qualification this season.

    “It was a good jump off and was built with lots of options and lots of places to cover the ground,” said Olivia, who is based in London. “Where she can excel in a jump off is that she can turn very easily and can go to a fence with a lot of speed.

    “The turns-ins we did were fairly easy for her [with her scope], she could just pick her feet up.”

    Olivia has been riding Conella for around a year-and-a-half after trying her at Kerry Grimster’s yard in Berkshire.

    “We’d seen her compete and we were looking for a young one, so I tried her and as I wanted to compete her, we bought a half-share,” Olivia said.

    “She’s a really honest pony with a good jump, so it’s been quite easy for her to adapt to going up the levels this year. We’re really pleased with how she’s coped.”

    Olivia, who turns 15 next week, is also competing two horses at the championships in the member’s cup and 1.30m final.

    “I don’t find it too difficult switching between them,” she added. “I think a lot of my ponies are like horses, they are very good in their flatwork and quite level, so they go quite similarly. Most of them are also really honest, so even if do have a bit of a mistake with stride they will help me out.”

    Olivia now plans to give the ponies 10 days off after an intense patch in the season while she focuses on preparing the horses to jump at the London Global Champions Tour next week (13-15 August).

    “It’s my birthday present,” she said. “I’m very excited to be going.”

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