At the Blue Chip Winter Showjumping Championships at Hartpury Arena, Gloucestershire (12-16 April), Irish showjumper Anthony Condon achieved a tremendous feat by steering a pair of Shaw Farm Stud home-breds to a one-two in Friday’s grand prix, writes Sarah Radford.
Anthony topped the leaderboard with the Hales family’s mare SFS Mirage and stopped the clock just half a second slower on her half-brother SFS Vincomte.
“I’d be surprised if a half-brother and sister taking first and second in a grand prix has happened before,” he said. “It’s a great result for Shaw Farm Stud and their breeding programme.”
SFS Mirage and SFS Vincomte are both out of a mare called Illusion, who is by the stallion Magic Darco, who the Hales owned, and out of Nick Skelton’s mare Florida. Mirage is by Unex Barichello, a son of Heartbreaker, and Vincomte, who has competed to 1.60m, is by Vini Vidi Vici.
“I actually have four horses out of the same mare, the seven-year-old SFS Houdini [who was recently runner-up in the seven-year-old championship at Arena UK and is by SFS Aristio], and the five-year-old SFS Valente [a full sister to Vincomte], who is showing promise. It’s a very good mother line,” Anthony Condon said.
“As you can imagine, we really think Illusion is the best mum out there,” added Pat Hales. “She only competed to newcomers herself. She was very well bred and very careful but quirky, so as we didn’t have an outside rider, we decided to breed from her and that has proved to be immensely successful.”
Illusion’s dynasty continues as Mirage also has two offspring on the ground: a two-year-old filly called SFS Reflection and a yearling colt called SFS Conqueror, both by Vini Vidi Vici.
‘She’s been knocking on the door in recent weeks’
A total of seven combinations had made it through to the second round of Friday night’s grand prix, giving the gala crowd plenty of action to get behind, at a show already characterised by some ferociously competitive jump-offs.
Early in the draw, Anthony set an unassailable bar when he delivered a beautifully smooth and economical performance on 10-year-old SFS Mirage, round a flowing track from Nigel Jess.
Two more combinations jumped clear, Philip Miller with Don Royale and Rose Moss with Amina OL. Don Royale initially held the runner-up spot before being knocked 0.32sec down the leaderboard by last-to-jump Anthony and 13-year-old Vincomte.
“The jump-off was all about your turns and who could turn a bit tighter – I won it turning a bit shorter from the second fence to the third. Mirage worked very hard there and did well to jump it,” Anthony said.
He added that he had asked more of the greener horse Mirage in the jump-off to give her the experience against the clock.
“I already know Vincomte can go quite fast, so I asked a question or two more of her and she lived up to the task,” he said. “She’s been knocking on the door in recent weeks and she was ready to win one.”
Mirage is less familiar on the circuit than her older sibling Vincomte, who has jumped successfully at five-star level. Although relatively low mileage and still eligible to jump B&Cs, the mare has been placed in all the grands prix she’s jumped this year.
“She had a bit of time out as she had a foal when she was younger, but I think she’s a horse who will go on,” Anthony said.
Another consistent performer for Anthony this season has been Thomas and Sophia Kelly’s mare Ashdale Allstar, who just missed out on taking home a rug when she was second to Angie Thompson and Sanavisto in the Blue Chip Karma final. These two were recent rivals in the winter grade C final at Arena UK when the roles were reversed with Sanavisto standing runner-up.
“Angie pipped me right at the end, she’s been on fire all week!” Anthony said.
Don’t miss the full report from the Blue Chip Winter Showjumping Championships in this week’s magazine, in the shops Thursday 20 April.
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