‘They’re a first season combination’: 23-year-old rider tops RIHS amateur riding horses

  • The amateur horse classes at the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) kicked off with the British Show Horse Association (BSHA) riding horses, and coming out triumphant of both the large and small fields was 23-year-old Sophie Openshaw riding her own and her mother Lynn Openshaw’s seven-year-old New Illusion (Lily).

    The attractive small contender, who is known as Lily at home, is a daughter of showjumping stallion Crackenthorpe Formula 1 and a riding horse mare. She was bred by Pam Prickett in Cumbria, and Sophie and Lynn purchased her from Julie Guildford-Smith last December.

    She is based with Team Moore in Cheshire, and she has only ever been lightly shown under-saddle. Prior to her foray into riding horse ranks with self-employed skin specialist Sophie, she was shown solely as an intermediate show riding type.

    “She has matured so much in the last 12 months,” said Lynn, who knew of Lily prior to purchasing her last term. “When Julie decided she was going to sell her we jumped at the chance.”

    Lily and Sophie won both RIHS intermediate and open riding horse qualifications at UKPH Spring Classic back in March, and they were also RIHS amateur champions at BSPS Area 5 Three Shires in May, booking their pass for the final they would win.

    This was Sophie’s first-ever RIHS victory after attending the final for the past 13 years. Sophie and Lily were pulled in second after the go-round, but a wonderful performance under the ride judge moved them into pole position.

    “Sophie has been riding here since she was 10,” Lynn added. “A few years ago we lost our beloved 15hh hunter pony suddenly, and our last intermediate sadly grew out of height so he was sold on to a new home. Thankfully, everything seems to have fallen into place with Lily.

    “She’s a very easy, straightforward horse who doesn’t require much work at all. She can be a madam, though, which gives her that presence when it’s needed most.

    “This year has been a big learning curve for the pair; even though she’s been on the same yard for a few years, Lily and Sophie are a new combination, and it’s Lily’s first season taking a ride judge.”

    Last year’s champion, Katie Dashwood’s 11-year-old gelding Minella Rebellion, a former ex-racehorse, posted reserve this year after winning the large class for the second time on the bounce.

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