‘I wasn’t supposed to be jumping for four months’: rider returns from injury early to win at Royal Windsor

  • Sally Goding rode to an impressive national 1.40m victory at Royal Windsor Horse Show, despite having returned to the ring only the day before the show following a 10-week lay off.

    Riding her homebred eight-year-old mare Spring Willow, she stole a 0.04sec victory from late in the draw in this competitive single phase, the opening main ring jumping class of the show.

    Ten weeks earlier, the West Sussex rider had badly broken her ankle falling from a youngster and had been advised to avoid riding for several months.

    “I wasn’t supposed to be jumping for four months. I have lots of pins and plates in it, but the main problem was that they had to wire the joint together,” Sally said.

    “I went to a show yesterday to practise and then came here. The horse is really brave and I trust her — we bred her so we have known her all her life.

    “Simon Crippen has been riding her for me and he’s done a good job of keeping her ticking over.”

    The lead changed hands six times in this 47-strong class. Sophie Fawcett had set a decent advantage from midfield on Sassicaia Ares, only to have it overturned by a classy effort from Olli Fletcher and Garande, who had looked unbeatable, but lost out on the win by just four hundredths of a second.

    “The amount of big classes we’ve come second in, it’s nice to finally be first!” Sally said.

    The last fence, a meaty oxer jumped on a curving line away from the collecting ring, had been a particular bogey in this course, causing numerous faults, several refusals and one rider fall.

    “You could go on seven or eight strides and when I walked it, I thought the seven to the last was a bit brave, especially if you’d done the turn into the fence before,” Sally said. “After watching some people go, I realised you had to be brave and ride for the seven – people who were being cautious and going for the eight seemed to be having the problem.”

    It was a Windsor main ring debut for Spring Willow, who has jumped here in the outside rings but missed her six-year-old year, when she could have contested the Walwyn, because of Covid.

    “I’m just doing the one class here,” Sally added. “We’re doing Wellington next week, so it’s been practice for that.”

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