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Four-time winner makes HOYS history with horse who started jumping eight months ago

History was made at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) on Wednesday (2 October) when Nicole Pavitt won the senior newcomers championship for the fourth time, riding a horse who started his jumping career just eight months ago.

Nicole took the Connolly’s Red Mills title with chestnut gelding Southend, an 11-year-old British warmblood owned by Matt Pike.

She followed Christopher Smith, who set the bar high with a clear jump-off round in a good time on Hornet.

“I watched Chris go just before me and I really thought that he had done enough and was going to win it,” Nicole said.

“Southend is probably not the fastest, but he has a big stride so covers the ground easily. I just decided to take some tight turns then I could gain on him.

“The horse is relatively inexperienced, he only started his jumping career eight months ago and I’ve only ridden him a handful of times.”

Southend has unknown breeding and Nicole admitted she and Matt had no idea he would be such a star.

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“He’s done riding club and he has hunted so he has a varied background, but he just makes it all seem effortless,” she said.

“We have just come back from two weeks in France where the arenas are very open, adding to that he has never even jumped indoors before, so I think he had a bit of a shock, but he has a good head on him. I’m really looking forward to the future with him.”

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Nicole won the senior newcomers championship in 2012 with Our Duchess, in 2014 with Tia Semilly and in 2017 with HC Cornet.

“Winning any class at HOYS is an amazing feeling and to have won this particular class four times is a real honour,” she added.

For the full report on all the action at HOYS, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday, 10 October.

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