Thrills, spills, top-speed jumping and Christmas jumpers: the London International Horse Show mini major class had it all.
There were also a couple of tack malfunctions, some hands-free jumping and a combination “by royal appointment” in the Monday afternoon class — from which Laura Renwick on Parkmore Rowan and 10-year-old Cliodhna McEvoy on Tynnan Tuttle Pip emerged victorious.
The combination scorched home nearly two seconds faster than second-placed Dan Delsart — who jumped the last fence hands-free — on Granby and Martha Cussins on Pegaz.
“I was absolutely gobsmacked!” Laura said. “She was fearless.
“I did my round, there’s a little bit of pressure; you don’t want to knock one down and let them down. Then when [Cliodhna] started, I think my jaw just dropped, it was incredible.
“The angles, the speed, the accuracy; I was really surprised, and ‘Wow!’”
Asked if she could have jumped the class at Cliodhna’s age, Laura said “No I wouldn’t! Lucky if I jumped a cross-pole when I was 10.”
Cliodhna, who has been riding for two years, on Joanne Morton’s 14-year-old mare for one, said winning the London horse show mini major was the best possible Christmas present, adding: “I’m very proud of her.”
Proud dad Martin McEvoy said the pony comes from Blue Oak Farm, and she and his daughter “have a partnership made in heaven”.
“Cliodhna was extremely nervous but didn’t show it when she came into the ring,” he said.
Spectators watched Matt Sampson sporting festive knitwear for his round on Kann Be Lucky, with Ella Kay on Kilcreene Apollo, and an unlucky saddle slip leading to elimination for one young rider, while another pony managed to lose both his rider and his bridle. Neither child nor pony was injured.
The crowd was also told one combination was there “by royal appointment”, although it was Will (Funnell) and Cate (Kerr) rather than the Cambridges who finished in third place, riding Billy Kodak and Taggarts Express respectively.
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