Jump-off plan pays off as new partnership speed to victory *H&H Plus*

  • Find out where Olivia Sponer and Conella II saved valuable seconds to edge victory in the pony British novice championship final...

    Speed queens Olivia Sponer and Conella II could not be caught in the competitive Nedz Advance pony British novice championship final.

    The pair, who finished second in Friday’s pony discovery championship, went one better on Saturday (10 October) to lift the British novice trophy at the British Showjumping Indoor Championship Finals at Aintree International Equestrian Centre.

    The combination were early to go in the 19-strong jump-off and were the first double clear, setting the time to beat at 29.2 seconds. They were the first to take the inside line between the first and second fences, jumping the blue upright on the angle and wasting no time across the rest of the course, galloping to the last with Olivia and Conella’s pony tails both flying.

    “She will never say no to a fence,” said Olivia, 14, who started riding the six-year-old mare over lockdown.

    “The height doesn’t matter to her. She’s got a big jump, but she can be quite hot sometimes.”
    Paul Kelly gave the combination a hand in the warm-up, while owner and trainer Kerry Grimster helped Olivia with her jump-off plan.

    “We saw were we needed to go and knew that everyone would be taking a similar route, so I knew I had to be quick and tight round the fences,” she explained.

    “She’s got a big stride but she’s able to adjust and she’s careful too.

    “I think my turn back to the penultimate upright was where we made the time — I made a mistake there and went too tight, so she was good to jump it for me.”

    Rachel Proudley and Robe Park Bobby took on the challenge, taking a stride out to the last as they went for the win, stopping the clock just over two seconds behind in a time of 31.53 seconds. Third place went to Samuel Hitchen and Bearwood Barney (32.56), with Olivia and her second ride, Indien Legacy fourth in 32.68 seconds.

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