Brace of wins for Jessica Botham at British Showjumping national championships

  • Jessica Botham claimed a brace of victories at the British Showjumping national championships today (7 Aug), including taking the four-year-old title for a fourth consecutive year.

    It was homebred gelding Clayton who was handed the first win when four-year-old championship judges Laura Stockdale and Diane Pimblett ranked him nine points ahead of the runner-up.

    The 29 entries were assessed on the flat and ridden over a course of fences, before 20 combinations came forward to jump again for final judging.

    “We always try and aim for this class and I put myself under pressure as I had won it for the previous three years and I was going last,” Jess said.

    “We also ended up late, even though we are only 25mins away, as we hit traffic and one thing and another. I said to Adam [husband] ‘you are going to have to go down to the ring, take Arthur [son] and walk the course for me!’

    “We had been allowed to go in and let them walk round, but I missed that and the course walk — it worked out alright in the end though as he is so honest and straight and has such a good brain on him.”

    Clayton, who has had a light introduction to competition this year with a few training shows, was named after Jess’s grandmother.

    “We were at my Nan’s funeral and when we came out I turned my phone back on and there was a message to say he’d been born,” Jess said. “Her name was Margaret Clayton, so I called him Clayton after her.”

    He is by the stallion Cicero Z out of a broodmare who came from the Eilberg family.

    “The Eilbergs rang me six or seven years ago to say they had a horse who had turned out to be a jumper, and would I like to ride it,” Jess said. “I rode that one and sold it, and then ended up riding and selling another out of the same mare.

    “They were both by dressage stallions, but she kept producing jumpers — eventually they said ‘we don’t want any more jumpers as we have to keep paying you to ride them, would you like her as a broodmare?’, so we said yes.

    “She was Michael’s young riders horse and Clayton is the first foal she had by a jumping stallion — I joked to Adam at the time that he’d probably turn out as a dressage horse and we’d have to pay the Eilbergs to ride him!”

    Joe Trunkfield, winner of Friday night’s national 1.40m title with the stallion Idwerd, took the runner up spot with Car-a-lago Z.

    The grey stallion also finished second in the four-year-old championship at Northcote earlier this year.

    “I was really happy with him — I think in these classes two seconds is as good as a win,” Joe said. “He is an amazing horse and is definitely going to be one for the future.”

    Newcomers masters victory

    Jess’s second victory of the day came in a highly competitive Lord and Lady Equestrian newcomers masters, riding Jane Starkey’s Manzanita.

    Four from 11 combinations through to the jump-off left the fences standing, with Jess holding off a challenge from Megan James and Jolita L to take the win by 0.9sec.

    Manzanita has been on a run of recent form, claiming the seven-year-old final at Weston Lawns last week.

    The mare is one of several of Jane’s homebreds out of the same mare, Gunner B, that form a significant chunk of Jess’s string, including one half sister and two full sisters.

    “Mentally they are all quite similar, although they all do it in their own different ways. All three are real triers and very consistent,” Jess said. “They were originally bred as eventers and the others have evented, although Manzanita never has.

    “Jane hacks to me at the other end of the village and I ride them two or three times a week and she brings them to shows for me.”

    The win secured the mare a ticket for the newcomers final at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) in October.

    “We missed a few of the early second rounds — here you only jump two rounds to qualify [rather than the three at the second rounds] so it’s slightly easier. I was confident she’d jump clear in the first round and we had a little bit of luck in the jump off. She jumped fantastic — we went on seven to the last, not eight, and it was quite a long way and she still jumped it for me.”

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