‘You have to chase your dreams’: former maths teacher takes amazing HOYS hat-trick

  • The showjumping star of the week at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) so far is undoubtedly Ireland’s Jessica Burke, who has won an international hat-trick on her first visit to the show.

    The former maths teacher and Louisa Church’s nine-year-old Inpulss won Friday’s NAEC Stoneleigh Stakes, a single-round speed class, with Joe Whitaker and Icaterina second, then Saturday’s accumulator just over a tenth of a second ahead of Mark Edwards and Flying Tinker. Today’s result in the speed horse of the year class was the same as yesterday, Jessica and “Pulse” speeding home just ahead of Mark and Flying Tinker – who are themselves far from slow.

    To win any class at HOYS, let alone three internationals, on the same horse, and on your debut, is an amazing achievement, and an emotional one for Jessica.

    “I don’t have the words, to be honest,” she said. “To do the hat-trick – I didn’t really think about it too much before; I knew it would be nice but didn’t focus on it, just tried to take each one as it came, but I just believe in the horse so much.”

    Jessica said today’s course was tougher than the other two, with some tricky turns in the first half.

    “That could have been smoother but oh my god, that mare’s amazing,” said Jessica. “And once that first half was out of the way, she just flew. She fights so hard, she’s amazing.”

    Jessica said the scale of her achievement has not yet sunk in, and may not until she gets home.

    “It’s such a cool show; the crowd, everything,” she said. “This mare’s such a sweetheart and it’s nice that everyone can see her and what we have together as a partnership.

    “The plan is to step her up to five-star next year. I don’t know how big she’ll jump but this mare thinks she can do anything.”

    Jessica said it was an emotional occasion; her family is here, and Inpulss’s owner Louisa Church is overjoyed.

    “She rang yesterday and said she burst into tears when the mare went down the centre line,” she said. “The mare’s amazing, and it’s emotional for everyone.”

    It is now about three years since Jessica Burke left teaching maths to jump full-time, and although she still has the option to return, this is unlikely to happen at any point soon.

    “You have to chase your dreams,” she said.

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