Arena UK report: Showjumper wins on horse she’s had for just a week and much more *H&H Plus*

  • Louise Saywell wins with a horse she’s only had for a week, while Jack Whitaker impresses with a smart home-bred

    Arena UK, Lincs, 15–19 July

    Louise Saywell hit form with brand new ride Edgarrento in the A, B and C handicap to conclude this five-day meeting in style.

    “I’ve only had him a week and I’m playing around with bridles to see which is the best suited,” said Louise, on the Zento x Numero Uno 11-year-old who jumped to 1.60m with Leon Thijssen. They made the 1.45m track look easy.

    “He’s easy to handle, a little bouncy to ride but straightforward,” she said. “He had four faults in the first couple of classes but we used a mini elevator bit today and he won.”

    Kerry Brennan notched up a hat-trick with the effusive Wellington M with two 1.30m wins topped by a 1.40m. “He put on weight during lockdown so we’ve jumped 1.30m classes to get his fitness up,” said Kerry, who was frustrated to drive to Oliva Nova in March, jump two classes – winning one – only to come home after the show was cancelled.

    “He thought he’d retired in lockdown – this is his second show and he’s so excited, he bounces off the lorry like a four-year-old.”

    Winner of the initial 1.30m, Kerry moved the Quidam De Revel x Cash 17-year-old up to 1.40m and battled for supremacy with Mark Edwards and his home-bred Montreuxs Tale.

    Mark topped the first 1.40m and claimed the second 24 hours later 0.09sec ahead of Kerry and “Welly”. On day three, Kerry commanded a quarter of a second advantage and triumphantly concluded the show with another 1.30m victory.

    Edwards on form

    Mark was pleased with the Tinkers Tale x Corleone 10-year-old Montreuxs Tale at their first outing since February. They jumped the first three days, scoring two wins and a second.

    “The courses were stiffer than I expected but he was excited to be back. He’s not spooky and gets on with the job, but he was fresh – although as soon as he was in the ring, he was focused,” said Mark.

    “I just hacked him at home with a couple of jumps at the end of lockdown. He felt well in himself and it is so nice to be out somewhere different.”

    Holly Smith made short work of Saturday’s 1.40m to outpace 26 rivals with Claddagh Iroko. The Iroko x Cruising 13-year-old jumped at St Tropez, France, two weeks earlier and this win kept him ticking over.

    “I’m hoping to return to St Tropez and I’m waiting to hear if I get in – big shows have waiting lists,” said Holly. “This course was up-to-height and competitive but not a race. He’s been a little trooper for me and his rideability is so good, it won the class. He’s a good support to Hearts Destiny and Denver, and [owner] Jason Nunn is a pleasure to work with, leaving the decisions to me.”

    Jess Botham registered four wins on former Olympic eventer and Badminton winner Jane Starkey’s home-bred. Isabelle Mirah, a nine-year-old mare by the Connemara stallion Carnaby Mirah, who competed to intermediate level with Sarah Way, topped the first two Foxhunter classes.

    “She’s a winner, an absolute demon against the clock, only 15.3hh but so competitive. She gets her game face on and off we go, she loves it,” said Jess. “Jane lives in the same village and was looking for a rider when Sarah became pregnant – now she’s a showjumping convert.”

    Jess meets them at shows, and schools them once a week. “Jane rides one and leads another to our yard,” she said.

    Jess doubled up with two newcomers wins on Manzanita, a six-year-old mare by Cevin Z and half-sister to Isabelle. “She did a few five-year-old classes but has really come on this year – she’s careful, competitive and has recently moved up to Foxhunter,” said Jess.

    “Fun of the day”

    Annabel Shields claimed a 1.30m win and a second place with out-and-out favourite Wet Wet Wet (Mr Blue x Royal Feu) who belied his 17 years with an excitable, bullish attitude in the ring.

    “He won twice at his first show back at South View – and he’s my fun of the day and felt on fire,” said Annabel.

    Joe Trunkfield’s early-draw efforts triumphed in Saturday’s 1.30m at his fifth show with Guadelupe, a Zambesi x Papillon Rouge nine-year-old.

    “She’s had embryos taken from her and has just returned from Twemlows,” said Joe. “She was fresh to start but settled in the second half. I’m now working on her fitness but she’s game and runs off her blood – when she’s fitter, she can stand a lot of jumping and needs it.”

    James Whitaker was also a 1.30m winner with Coloro Ex Z. “He’s been hacking during lockdown and he jumped at the Davenports’ training show in Cheshire a couple of weeks ago. I just wanted to give him a pop round here, but he was jumping so well I couldn’t help myself [against the clock],” said James, who made the best of a bad situation. “The break has done the older horses good, it’s usually full on this time of year.”

    Good show!

    Riders praised the smooth running and relaxed atmosphere at this busy five-day show, despite sporting over 100 entries in both the newcomers and Foxhunter classes.

    “They nailed it. There was plenty of room in the warm-up – a whole ring split for flatwork with a maximum of five riders at a time and a jumping warm-up, again restricted to five riders. And although there were 100 in a class, it didn’t seem busy,” said Jess Botham.

    Show proprietor and secretary Lauren Fogg was also happy. “We really like this new system – all drawn orders, competitors jumping at specific times and they have responsibly observed all the protocols,” she said.

    “She’s a character”

    Jack Whitaker guided the impressive home-bred six-year-old Paenut II (Billy Congo x Tornado) into a double clear in the newcomers.

    “We think a lot of her. She’s inexperienced but has a big stride, scope and is ultra-careful,” said Jack. “She was sharp – we couldn’t get near her with a headcollar as a three-year-old and she was very sharp to break-in so we took our time.

    “She only started competing last September, but now she’s ready to crack on. She’s still a character, but they need a bit about them, it’s what makes them special.”

    Ref Horse & Hound; 23 July 2020