‘I committed a long way out!’ young rider qualifies for London International with last-fence flyer

  • Young showjumper Nicole Lockhead Anderson and the super mare Chilli earned a ticket to the Voltaire Design Under 25 British Championship at the London International Horse Show in December with a sensational victory in Saturday’s qualifier at Aintree International Equestrian Centre.

    The class was part of the AW Jenkinson Winter Classic Premier Show (12-16 October) and 20-year-old Nicole piloted Tom Williams’ Colestus mare to a 0.46sec victory over runner-up Sandy McLean riding Gino F.

    “She’s just incredible – she’s just naturally a very fast horse and I took a bit of a risk to the last, but she’s so careful and very scopey, and she picked up, thankfully!” said Nicole of the 10-year-old mare, with whom she has racked up a string of high-profile wins – including at the London leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour – in their relatively short time together.

    “I’m very lucky to get to ride her, I’m very grateful to her owners Tom and Jess Williams.”

    Nicole had the advantage of watching her chief rival Sandy McLean’s jump-off performance before she entered the ring.

    “Sandy was very fast – he was very neat everywhere and very tight, and his horse would be a bit bigger than mine,” said Nicole. “He made all the distances a bit easier, so I knew that if I did the same and tried to be a bit quicker to the last, with Chilli being naturally so fast, that hopefully it would be enough.”

    The astounding photo (main image, above, taken by Majestic Photography) reveals the pair’s breathtaking top-of-the-wings leap over the final oxer – and the spectators’ astonished faces – that helped them win the class.

    “I was a very long way off that final oxer – I committed a long way out!” said Nicole.

    This will be Nicole Lockhead Anderson’s debut in the prestigious Voltaire Design Under 25 British Championship, held at the London International Horse Show at London ExCeL (15-19 December).

    “I’m really looking forward to it,” said Nicole, who is currently about to start three weeks of competition in Vilamoura, Portugal, with Chilli.

    The hugely talented 10-year-old mare was world champion as a five-year-old, but had two years off with an injury incurred in a freak accident in Spain, when the mare got loose in the arena and tried to jump out.

    “She’s an absolute fighter, she’s unbelievable,” said Nicole.

    Runner-up Sandy McLean also bagged a ticket to the under-25 final with the 11-year-old gelding Gino F.

    “We’ll only do two or three shows now before ExCeL and then hopefully aim to get on one of the Nations Cup teams next year,” Sandy said.

    “For a big horse it doesn’t matter what arena he goes in. He won at the Royal Highland in a massive big arena, then he jumped in a smaller indoor arena at Aintree. He wants to help out and do the job for you and that’s half the battle.”

    You can read the full report of Nicole Lockhead Anderson and Sandy McLean’s achievements at the AW Jenkinson Winter Classic Premier Show at Aintree in this week’s magazine, in the shops Thursday 20 October.

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