Monica Ballard’s first time contesting the British Showjumping national championships ended in triumph when she headed the Nupafeed Supplements discovery final with her six-year-old home-bred Cartier 666.
Runner up Abi Leadbetter had set a 7sec lead in this very quick 25-horse jump off and Monica had to go all-out to find her 0.81sec advantage.
“I didn’t think it was beatable, I thought if I could beat it, it would be only just. I couldn’t have gone any faster,” said Monica, whose mare is 17.2hh whereas Abi’s is just 15.1hh.
“Abi cut in tight everywhere and I had to rely on taking strides out. I would never have caught up with her if it was a more twisty track.”
Although Cartier 666 has several wins on her card, and is just out of newcomers, this was the first time Monica had really tested her against the clock.
“She’s really become competitive in the last six weeks. That was the most I have asked of her as I’ve kept it pretty sane until now. I normally jump amateurs, but I have young horses at the moment and I struggle with young ones as I want to go fast and win! Doing it properly with her has paid off though,” she added.
The partnership didn’t have the greatest preparation for the show — despite having had a flawless run of double clears, Monica fell off on their final outing before the championships.
“We went to Golden Cross on Tuesday and had a horrendous round, they had cross-country fences around the edge of their new arena and I couldn’t get her near a house fence on the edge. She saw the fence we were meant to be jumping a bit late and jumped the top of wings from a standstill and jumped me clean off. It wasn’t the best preparation for a final!” Monica said.
“It’s good to know she can jump the top of the wings even if I can’t — at least not from a standstill!”
Cartier 666, is by Noble Warrior out of Monica’s prolifically successful amateurs mare Miss Cartier. She is also currently competing her five-year-old half sister, who is by Balou Star.
“They’ve turned out completely differently — one is a big horse and the other is small. I can’t keep them both so now I have to decide which one I am going to sell. It was going to be her but I am not sure now, although she has got more scope than the level I want to jump with her,” she added.
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