Young rider Chloe Winchester floored the favourites to win the coveted Queen Elizabeth II Cup with her 12-year-old mare Avoca Valkyrie at Hickstead’s Longines Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) earlier today (Saturday 1 August).
“It’s such a prestigious class and such an honour to jump here, and to do a round like that was even better,” said 21-year-old Chloe, who was tackling the 1.60m track here for the first time. “I’m very surprised to have won.”
Chloe produced one of six first round clears from 26 starters, and had an advantageous penultimate draw in the jump off.
Tina Fletcher set a strong opening lead with a clear on Hello Sailor, which was soon contested by Kerry Brennan and the exceptional Wellington M. The diminutive gelding stopped the clock 0.01sec off Tina’s time to lie in a close second place.
Chloe’s fluid round on her partner of three years found strides all round the course, as the mare devoured the track with impressive scope. They broke the beam with a full 3.75sec in hand.
But last to jump were 2013 Derby winners Phillip Miller and Caritiar Z, who were in with a strong chance of claiming the 66-year-old trophy.
The charismatic grey was economical, but couldn’t match the Irish mare’s ground-eating pace, taking the runner-up spot 3.02sec behind.
“She just loves to run and jump and height is never an issue for her,” added Chloe, who has been gaining international experience this year with an appearance on the three-star nations cup squad at Odense in Denmark.
The pair will now head off for more Team GBR duties in Austria, where they will jump on the young rider European squad in Wiener Neustadt [10-16 August].
Don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine’s special RIHS report, on sale Thursday 6 August