Billy Nikon had never been to an indoor show before this week — but the seven-year-old turned not a hair as she and Lucy Townley cruised to victory in the Equitop GLME Foxhunter final at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).
The Billy Stud’s Plot Blue mare was one of only seven of 25 combinations to get through the first round; the technical course caused issues from start to finish but she and Lucy jumped a superb, calm clear.
The combination were last to go in the jump-off, by which time only Joseph Trunkfield and Idwerd had jumped clear.
“A few weeks ago, when we were jumping the qualifiers, Will Funnell said ‘When you go in the jump-off, don’t be protective to try to jump clear, go for it’. So I thought, stick to the plan,” Lucy said.
“She rattled the second fence because I was a bit nervous and held her — as I was riding to the first fence, I thought ‘Holy sh*t, I’m last to go, I want to try to win this’ — and that mistake settled me, because I thought I had to ride her properly and give her every chance to jump the fences. She was amazing.”
Billy Nikon qualified by winning the Foxhunter masters at the British Showjumping National Championships in August, after which the team decided to save her for the Foxhunter final at HOYS, rather than take her to the world young horse showjumping championships in Lanaken last month.
“The decision paid off!” Lucy said. “I never thought I’d win here. I’ve been coming since I was tiny; my parents have always been involved, and when I was six or seven, it was my favourite week of the year.
“Then, when I was 15 or 16, I worked for Sky Sports here, getting riders for interviews, and thought that was the best. So this is unbelievable.”
Lucy described the mare as “phenomenal”.
“She’s amazing; she surprised me by how focused she is, she really coped with the atmosphere,” she said. “She’s never been to an indoor show before, but I think the biggest thing is the training and preparation we do at home.
“That’s the key; the support we get is what makes it, you’re not going in thinking ‘God, she’s never been to an indoor show’, because you’ve done the homework.
“She’s a star. She met the Household Cavalry this morning and just walked past them without turning a hair, so she could probably join them too!
“I’m so lucky. I’ve got the most amazing job, riding these top horses with William, Pippa and Donal Barnwell’s backing. They’re such a team, so supportive, and they believe in you.”
Billy Nikon will now go out in the field for a holiday for the rest of the year.
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