Top sport at Keysoe Winter Classic despite multiple tack thefts

  • MARK EDWARDS maintained his status as the man to beat when he headed both the large and small grands prix at Keysoe Winter Classic, Beds, as well as tallying more young horse success with a Blue Chip qualifier victory.

    Mark set himself up with a fighting chance in the £1,500 grand prix after piloting two rides through to the 11-strong jump off – but his brilliant round from first draw on Montreuxs Tale was enough to seal the deal.

    Although there were an eventual seven double clears round Ben Townley’s track, Montreuxs’ huge stride and ample scope proved insurmountable. A late challenge came from Adrian Speight and his reigning national champion Millfield Baloney but they remained 0.75sec adrift of the Welshman’s target time.

    “I knew there were a few quick ones behind me so we had to give it a go,” Mark said. “Adrian wants to win as much as I do, so I knew he would be trying.

    “Montreuxs’ big stride helped – we took one out to the water tray and he just ate up the ground.”

    The 17.2hh home-bred is in his element in large outdoor rings, but has shown equal ability since coming indoors this season.

    “It is easier with him outdoors, but because he’s always trying and is very rideable, you can turn him as well,” Mark said. “As we didn’t get to jump much in 2020, he hasn’t done as much indoors, so we’re building on his consistency.”

    Mark added another victory in the small grand prix with 10-year-old Flying Tinker II before rounding off a full complement of Blue Chip qualifications for his young horses when he headed the Blue Chip B&C qualifier with Royale Tale. The six-year-old daughter of Montreuxs Tale, from before he was cut as a four-year-old, was the first filly born at Mark’s farm for five or six years.

    “We had a run of colts, which isn’t all that useful when you have a breeding programme!” Mark said. “We aren’t really into embryo transfer but we might breed from her when she’s a bit older as it’s nice to keep the bloodline going. She’s a real little winner who I think will be a really nice horse.”

    Jessica Hewitt riding Hot Bluebird at Keysoe Winter Classic

    Jessica Hewitt riding Hot Bluebird. Credit: Hoof Prints Equestrian Event Photos

    Reigning Hickstead winter B&C champions Jess Hewitt and Hot Bluebird have a shot at defending their title as they won the 72-strong qualifier, 2.47sec ahead of Adam Ellery on Helios B.

    “She’s a machine,” Jess said. “She is like a 12.2hh against the clock. She can turn and she can gallop, so there is no track that doesn’t suit her.”

    Megan Broadway’s nine-year-old mare is also being aimed at under-25 qualifiers this season.

    “She has been really unlucky and has missed by one or two in each qualifier,” Jess said. “If they were still decided on points, I think we’d be topping the league!”

    Competitive classes at Keysoe Winter Classic

    BOOSTED prize money drew competitors to this show and classes were characterised by huge fields and hotly fought jump-offs, with the top places often decided by hundredths of a second.

    Tallulah Randall took a 0.65sec win from 80-plus starters in the Blue Chip winter 1.25m qualifier, with her eight-year-old Crikey O’Reilly. The partnership just pipped reigning talent seekers champions Daniella Johnston and Elton John II, who were second.

    Tallulah Randall and Crikey Oreilly

    Tallulah Randall and Crikey O’Reilly. Credit: Hoof Prints Equestrian Event Photos

    Tallulah bought the 17hh gelding from Goresbridge as a three-year-old and has produced him herself.

    “He was a scrawny dinosaur of a horse but we got lucky!” she said. “He’s everything I could ever want. He is spooky at home but when he goes out, he jumps mega.”

    There were just 0.19sec separating the top three in the 90-strong Blue Chip Karma qualifier. Thomas Dovkants took the top spot with the nine-year-old mare Idylle, whose clean technique in front makes her a handy horse for indoor arenas.

    Thomas currently has the mare in to sell, having originally ridden her as a seven-year-old.

    “She was sold two years ago but we got her back two months ago,” said Thomas, who hopes to step her up to grand prix later this season. “We’re trying to find an owner for her so she can stay long term, as that would be ideal. She is a lovely horse with plenty of ability, it is just getting her brain in action as sometimes she is too much of a thinker.”

    Thomas Dovkants and Idylle

    Thomas Dovkants and Idylle. Credit: Hoof Prints Equestrian Event Photos

    Thomas also picked up a 1.20m win on Sunday with Vilenco I.

    “She’s another one we have in to sell – it’s a shame when they go as I get on with her like a house on fire,” he said. “She’s a phenomenal 1.20m to 1.30m horse, who is super-careful and turns on a sixpence.”

    “Powerhouse” horse impresses

    ABI WALTERS collected a spring championships qualification in the 1.30m winter grade C with seven-year-old Jack Daniels Reuvekamps, whom she bought after seeing a video posted by Bosanko Sports Horses.

    “I normally look at sales videos but don’t buy, but I saw his and liked him. I used to event but I was switching to horses with more jumping breeding, so I went to have a look,” she said.

    The Mr Blue x Chacco Blue gelding lost an eye to equine recurrent uveitis in March 2020 but remains unfazed.

    “He is still a very consistent horse and has been all the way through age classes,” said Abi. “He is a very easy horse, who makes things simple – he is a powerhouse with a great, rideable brain.”

    Saturday’s 1.40m open went to Yazmin Davis and her 11-year-old Zanbowa Z, with Helen Tredwell in second on Sebastian.

    “It was a nice flowing track and up-to-height as it was an A10. I watched a few go and there weren’t many clears until later in the class,” she said.

    The SEIB winter novice went to Irishman Derek McCoppin and Fabian II, with runner-up Lorraine Lock claiming the second ticket with Billy Gobi.

    Tack thefts at Keysoe Winter Classic

    RIDERS were full of praise for the organisation at this show – but the event was marred by the theft of around 14 saddles from five lorries and one tack locker.

    Riders including Rikki Gradley, Julie Grimwade, Holly Grimwade, Danielle Dickson and Angie Thompson were all targeted, with the stolen saddle brands including Equipe, Fairfax, Butet, Devoucoux, CWD and Amerigo.

    “I had my three favourite Devoucoux show saddles taken. They are all moulded to you and your horses and you know exactly what fits what,” Angie said. “They are so personal; to have them stolen is absolutely gutting.”

    Angie said that the thefts appeared to come in three waves, with some occurring in broad daylight. Lorries in one corner of the site that could be accessed via a separate gate seemed to have been targeted.

    “They have security at Keysoe, which is more than a lot of shows have,” Angie said. “Nobody came in and out of the driveway, so we think they came in through the field. Security was right on it after it happened.”

    Angie won a 1.35m open on the first day with Fremont VDL but had to borrow a saddle for the rest of the show. She finished third in Saturday’s 1.40m.

    “Adam Ellery was stabled next to us and had an older Devoucoux similar to mine and then I borrowed some of Alex Bishop’s spray stuff so I felt stuck to it,” she said. “Everyone is so generous. So many people were offering saddles to borrow or to try.”

    Angie added that Bicton and Arena UK had also been affected by saddle thefts and that “something would have to be done” to stop it.

    “People were so worried, they were walking round with their saddles and wouldn’t leave them anywhere,” she said. “It’s happened too many times now and the way it’s happening is so brazen. We sleep in our lorries and it makes you feel quite vulnerable.”

    • This report will also be available in read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 11 November

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