Teenage showjumper Olli Fletcher has soared into the record books as the youngest ever winner of an Area Trial.
These 1.50m classes are some of the most prestigious on the national circuit and always a highly competitive affair, so when 15-year-old Olli, son of the great showjumpers Graham and Tina Fletcher, was handed the red ribbon at Wales and West last weekend (18-21 May), it was a truly momentous moment for the whole family.
“The first round asked plenty of questions and it wasn’t over until you’d jumped the last, but the jump-off was smooth and flowing,” says Olli, who was riding the 15-year-old former eventer KBIS Caicos.
“He’s amazing, lovely to ride and has so much scope that every fence is like jumping a vertical.”
Olli would love to follow in his mother’s footsteps and win the Hickstead Derby, but his immediate aims are a place on the junior European jumping team and a tilt at the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at the Royal International.
“I’d love a crack at the Derby, but rules say I’ve got to wait three years until I’m 18,” says Olli. “Caicos has already jumped it with [former rider] Alfie Bradstock and although he’s 15 now, he thinks he’s seven.”
Olli’s father Graham reckons he didn’t win his first Area Trial until the age of 16, so son Olli is already giving him a very good run for his money.
“To win a Trial at his age is a great achievement,” Graham told H&H. “Your only hope as a parent is that your children do better than you, and, with the right rub of the green, I think he could go on to do very well.
“I’d say Olli is a pretty similar personality to me – a bit cocky and, like my Dad had to do to me, sometimes I have to keep him in check! But I would say his riding is a lot more stylish than mine was, but I think every rider has to be nowadays just because of the type of horses they’re riding. The courses back then were a fair bit gutsier and tougher, too — you had to ride with a bit more vigour, shall we say!”
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Don’t miss the full report from Wales and West in next week’s issue of H&H, out Thursday, 7 June.
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