The Netherlands’ Kevin Jochems made his first five-star grand prix win a prestigious one — jumping from first draw, the 22-year-old rider saw off six other contenders to claim the BHS Royal International Horse Show’s coveted King George V trophy with Captain Cooper.
Nine riders had initially produced clears round Kelvin Bywater’s track where notorious Hickstead tests including the double of gates, water and the water ditches had all been influential.
But only seven came forward for the deciding phase as both Ireland’s Anthony Condon (Aristio SFS) and the Netherlands’ Angelique Hoorn (Brego R’n B) were eliminated under rule 241.3.30 after blood was seen on their horses’ flanks.
Kevin’s fast opening clear in the jump off with the 11-year-old Namelus R gelding was immediately impressive — but there was still a decent field left to come.
US-based Brit Amanda Derbyshire was next in with nine-year-old Roulette BH — who was making his five-star grand prix debut. The horse was produced by Phillip Miller and Ben Walker and sold to the Gochman family for Amanda to ride two-and-a-half months ago.
They produced another double clear but stopped the clock 2.86sec behind the Dutchman to slot into second place.
“My advice outside [from Nick Skelton] had been to go for it, but I thought I was going faster than I really was,” she said. “The horse is pretty new to me and for him to jump a double clear in his first five-star grand prix, I couldn’t be happier.”
Just element 6a of the double of gates remained in the second round but it still caused its problems, illiciting faults from the three competitors that followed — Belgium’s Francous Mathy Jnr (Casanova De L’Herse), Brazil’s Modolo Zanotelli (Sirene De La Motte), and Sweden’s Stephanie Holmen, who also added the Hickstead planks with Flip’s Little Sparrow.
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Italy’s Massimo Grossato then provided the third and last double clear, storming the final line with the relatively green nine-year-old Lazzaro Delle Schiave to shunt Amanda into third place, and take second 2.29sec behind Kevin.
“I took a risk, but in a jump off you have to — the horse has big stride and the distance was long and I pushed for it. He’s a fantastic horse,” said Massimo.
When final contender Gudrun Patteet (BEL) and Sea Coast Pebbles Z also clipped the planks, Kevin’s nervous wait was over.
“I can’t describe the feeling,” he said. “I’m already very honoured to be here and to be allowed to be in the [Longines FEI Nation’s Cup] team on Sunday. I tried my very best and and it was an amazing feeling to win it.”
Full report from the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of Great Britain at the BHS Royal International Horse Show in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 2 August