H&H analysis: Upton’s on the up in Bicton’s under-25 CCI4*-L *H&H Plus*

  • University student Bubby Upton claims the youth title at Bicton, supported by Chedington, in Devon, with a raft of promising British riders close behind

    BUBBY UPTON took the under-25 championship at Bicton, supported by Chedington. The 22-year-old has been a prolific winner of under-21 medals, with four team and three individual honours to her name, but this was her first time actually winning a British age championship.

    “It feels good finally to do it,” said Bubby, 22, who reckons she’s held the lead six times in under-age championships, without ever winning one. “The horses always ended up pulling it out the bag at the pony, junior or young rider Europeans, so I didn’t mind. But there’s no under-25 Europeans, so it’s nice actually to seal the deal.”

    Bubby lay second after dressage on Cola III and third on Cannavaro, both horses owned by her mother Rachel. Both moved up a spot on the cross-country, with Cola producing the only round inside the time in this section.

    Bubby admitted throughout the week that she was uncertain about the Dutch warmblood ex-showjumper Cannavaro’s suitability for Bicton’s hills, but in the end he came through to win the class, adding a showjumping clear to his 5.2 time-faults across country.

    “Cannavaro really deserves it. I definitely doubted him coming here because he’s only 20% blood. But he’s got a heart of pure gold and he showed it all week, so I’m delighted for him,” she said.

    Cross-country leader Cola dropped to fourth with three showjumps down.

    “I need to go back and review it,” said Bubby. “Obviously I would have preferred to jump a clear like I know he’s capable of, but it gives us more to work on and we just constantly push towards getting better.”

    Bubby is about to go into her final year juggling a sports management degree at Edinburgh with riding a small string from the Suffolk home of her parents, Rachel and Hugo.

    “The aim is to set up professionally this time next year and give it a crack,” she said.

    A mature ride

    YASMIN INGHAM led the dressage on 26.9 riding last year’s British eight- and nine-year-old champion Banzai Du Loir, who belongs to Sue Davies and Janette Chinn.

    As this was the horse’s first four-star long, she chose to take two long routes in a mature ride across country, accruing 8.4 time-faults to drop to fourth overnight. These were at the Offset Brushes out of the second water (fences 9 and 10) and the rail-ditch-corner called the Course Designer’s Conundrum (fence 15abcd).

    “He’s only 10, so he’s still inexperienced at this level,” said Yasmin. “I watched the seniors this morning and there were lots having issues, and he’s such a nice horse that I don’t want to scare him. I wanted him to grow in confidence around the course.”

    Yasmin had the final showjump down, which did not affect her placing, and she finished in third behind Heidi Coy.

    “She’s only little but so feisty”

    HEIDI piloted three horses into the top 14 in the under-25 championship, with David Ottewell’s mare Russal Z the best placed in second. The grey, who is out of a Darco mare, moved up from fourth after dressage by just adding 4.8 time-faults across country.

    “She’s such a genuine little horse. She’s only nine, but everything you say to jump, she just jumps. She’s so feisty, she just gets her head down and gets on with the job,” said Heidi.

    “I didn’t push it the whole way around as I was worried about her fitness and she’s never done a track like that with the hills. I thought that I would save a bit in the tank, but actually, she galloped up that last hill really well.”

    Leicestershire-based Heidi has a yard of around 10 horses. The 21-year-old was riding in her first CCI4*-L here, having won two individual medals and one team medal in juniors and young riders on Royal Fury.

    An emotional week

    Phoebe Locke took fifth on Bellagio Declyange, who showjumped clear and had 13.6 time-faults across country.

    She said after her cross-country: “I had a really good ride. He’s still pretty inexperienced and I’ve produced him up the levels, but he’d never have gone around a course like this. So I just wanted to look after him and give him a nice experience. I knew he was capable of doing all the straight routes, but I didn’t want to risk anything.”

    Phoebe admitted she’d had an emotional week as she had sold the other horse she had entered in this section, Cooley Challenger.

    “So I just came with him, but he stepped up to the mark and dug deep for me,” she said.

    The course rode as strongly for the under-25 competitors as it had for their senior counterparts earlier in the day. Out of the 34 starters, 65% finished and 32% went clear.

    France’s Barbara Sayous and the British-bred Opposition Filmstar were fifth after dressage, but fell at fence 12a, the oxer into the Chedington Complex.

    Ailsa Wates retired Woodlands Persuasion, placed sixth after dressage, and Felicity Collins had 20 penalties at the second Offset Brush at fence 10 with RSH Contend Or, who was seventh equal after the first phase with Phoebe and Bellagio Declyange.

    Under-25 CCI4*-L results

    1 – Bubby Upton (GBR) on Cannavaro
    2 – Heidi Coy (GBR) on Russal Z
    3 – Yasmin Ingham (GBR) on Banzai Du Loir


    This report can also be read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 17 June

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