A full house enjoyed the Blue Chip Winter Showjumping Championships (10 to 14 April) gala at Hartpury last night (12 April) featuring the opening Kingsland Equestrian junior challenge, a Graham Fletcher lecture-demo and the feature Blue Chip grand prix.
Nicole Pavitt gave the crowd their money’s worth with an edge-of-your-seats round on nine-year-old chestnut mare Paris 16 to take the class in a seven-horse grand prix jump-off that had them yelling and gasping in equal measures.
Early riders left rails on the floor tackling course-designer Nigel Jess’s 13-fence first-round track and it was not until 12th drawn Rose Moss jumped a copybook round on the scopey African Affair that a clear round was found. Six more combinations eventually joined her, with Rose and Olli Fletcher jumping clear on two rides apiece.
Rose gave the riders something to chase with a competitive opener on the Billy Congo eight-year-old — and Nicole did just that with a breathtaking turn into a double one stride away and an indecisive approach to the final Blue Chip oxer.
“I saw a long one to the double and had to kick,” she said. “Phillip Miller told me it was a short six strides to the last and to go on five but once I’d landed over the [penultimate] vertical I couldn’t see five strides so hesitated and went on six.
“I’d put an extra stride to the last in Addington’s grand prix two weeks ago and was just pipped by Helen Tredwell, I’d never live it down if it happened again.”
Afterwards, Nicole said Paris 16 was “pure class”, adding: “Who says don’t have chestnut mares!”
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Olli Fletcher finished in second place on Temple Rebus, just over a second and a half behind Nicole, with Rose and African Affair in third.
Nine classes are due to be jumped at Hartpury today, including the Eskadron pony discovery championship and the Pikeur pony novice championship. Competition wraps up tomorrow (Sunday) with seven classes to be jumped.
Don’t miss this week’s edition of H&H magazine, out 18 April, for a full report from the Blue Chip championships, as well as all the normal reports, news, features and interviews.