Only three of 15 starters made it the the fourth and final round of jumping, by which time the fences were all at least 1.70m, the final vertical at 1.75.
Asked how much scope his 12-year-old ride has, John answered: “Well, we know he can jump 1.75m!”
Jean-Paul Ruis, St Jean La Poterie and HH Prince Torki bin Mohammed Al’s Selle Francais gelding also cleared well over 2m to win a six-bar in France last September.
“So we know he can jump high, he’s a really good horse,” John said. “The problem at the moment has been control a bit; he likes to fight you, but we’ve just kept working on it and he’s really improving. He’s so quick, and obviously he can jump, and I think next year he can jump some grands prix as he’s improving.”
John said one issue with some horses at this show, although not this one, is that they are not used to crowd noise, having had so long without it.
“Some horses, like Milton, get better with the atmosphere and noise, but the one I’m riding in the grand prix tonight, it does a bit,” he said. “They’re not used to it at the moment because of Covid.”
John has been competing at HOYS for 50 years, and he said this year’s show is special.
“Last night’s atmosphere was unbelievable,” he said. “The first class was great but the puissance was fantastic.
“I had felt the show had been dwindling a bit but this year, it’s been absolutely top.”
Shane’s ride, Carron Nicol and Breen Equestrian’s eight-year-old gelding, was faultless throughout all four rounds, staying as calm and rhythmical as the fences increased 30cm from their start height.
John will follow up his HOYS five-fence challenge win with a ride on Unick Du Francport in tonight’s grand prix, while Shane will bring forward Lady Star van Dorperheide.
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