On-song teenager completes Aintree hat-trick with pony showjumper of the year crown *H&H Plus*

  • Find out what simple training exercise helped Tabitha ‘click’ with her 2020 pony showjumper of the year championship winner Gangnam Style II...

    Tabitha Kyle scored her third trophy of the British Showjumping Indoor Championship Finals with a classy win in the Shaw Farm Stud pony showjumper of the year.

    Aintree has proved a happy hunting ground for the 13-year-old, who capped her glittering week with a win in the juniors’ feature class aboard Su and Gordon Hall’s Gangnam Style II.

    Six of the 29 starters jumped clear in the first round over Mark McGowan’s championship track, with Tabitha and the 11-year-old gelding third to jump off.

    The Leicestershire-based rider gave another of her trademark smooth, forward-flowing clear rounds, stopping the timer on 35.07 seconds and rewarding Gangnam Style with a pat.

    This was a true championship jump-off, with the final line of the Jockey Club oxer to the white upright seemingly daring riders to risk going bold and flat, or take a pull to add another short stride.

    “In the jump off, the second fence was the scariest fence for me because it was a really small upright and there was a ‘maybe’ turn after, but I actually got that really nicely,” she said.

    “The line to the last was risky, and I took a little check, but not a big one. I think if I had taken a bigger check I would have messed up the rhythm and had it down.”

    The six combinations who went clear in the first round were all strong, but nobody could match Tabitha’s time against the clock. Last to go Alfie Miles and Quantum Light came close, with a cracking round that was almost neck-and-neck with Tabitha’s time most of the way. The combination passed through the finishing beam fractionally slower than Tabitha’s leading time to settle for the runner-up spot (36.82). Third went to Elsi Jacques and Trevoulter Ladies Man (37.52).

    “I didn’t find the first round too big, it was more technical than big. I think it really suited Gangnam Style,” said Tabitha, adding she thought the designer did a great job with both the first round and jump-off courses.

    Tabitha took on the ride on the Irish gelding in 2019 to sell for previous owner Claire Lockhead, before the Halls bought the pony at the start of lockdown.

    “They bought him for me at the start of lockdown and I’m so grateful to them for setting me up with some great rides,” said Tabitha, explaining one of the jumping exercises that has really helped her “click” with Gangnam Style (“the friendliest pony on our yard”).

    “We did lots of canter poles every night after school and that really build up our confidence and link between each other. That made a big difference, just lots of 14-yard sets of four poles every night.

    “Because I’m so small we just have to try different techniques and we have really clicked and got that now.”

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