Holly Smith adds grand prix win to brilliant week at Hickstead *H&H Plus*

  • H&H talks to the winning riders on the final day of the Science Supplements All England Jumping Championships at Hickstead

    They dominated the 1.40m competitions earlier in the show and Holly Smith and Shane Breen maintained their form to take the top two places in the Science Supplements Grand Prix at Hickstead, the main class of this year’s show.

    With four British ladies, one Swedish star and two fearsome Irish riders in there, the seven-horse jump-off was a classic. David Simpson held the lead with a lovely round on Foudre F, a horse he owns in partnership with Breen Equestrian, but Holly Smith came in on her Thursday winner Fruselli and blitzed the time by three-and-a-half seconds.

    Holly knew something special was required as next to go were Shane Breen and Can Ya Makan, one of the world’s fastest combinations and winners of Friday’s speed class.

    Shane made full use of Team Z7’s big Canturo stallion’s long stride, but they flashed through the finish just over half-a-second behind Holly.

    “My horse doesn’t have the longest stride, but he’s quick enough to be able to take them out and he was brilliant today. The first time he jumped in the International Arena, he wasn’t too sure, but he’s now completely at home here. It just shows how much experience helps,” said Holly, who was grateful for help during the class from fellow competitor Jay Halim.

    “I’ve had a spate of second places recently, but when Jay’s there and winds me up by calling me ‘grandma’, I usually win!” she laughed.

    “I don’t mind ending up behind top-class riders like Sammie and Holly,” said Nick Edwards after finishing third and fourth with Royal Trooper II and Idodinus PP in the Voltaire Design 1.20m championship.

    This class produced a great 10-horse jump-off. As she did in yesterday’s Douglas Bunn Challenge, Sammie Coffin proved too quick for her rivals and took another winner’s rug, this time on Mark Penhaligon’s eight-year-old Habraxis. This enormous Dutch-bred Animo gelding turned like a polo pony and pushed Holly Smith into second place with Avalon Sunset B.

    “Goodness knows how big he is. We’ve never tried to measure him,” said Sammie, who has had Habraxis from a four-year-old. “Because of his size, he’s still weak, so I’ll continue producing him slowly. He has a huge stride and lots of scope, so he should be able to move up the grades.”

    This show had already been a triumph for Donal Barnwell and William Funnell’s Billy Stud and Lucy Townley added two more champion’s rugs to their collection today. She and Billy Vitaini began this final day by jumping the faster of only two double clears to take the novice title. She then waited until the final class of the show to produce the sole double clear in the Lemieux 1.30m championship on Bentley X.

    “I can’t take the credit, as everything is a huge team effort and the people in the background are as important as the riders,” said Lucy, who thinks a lot of Billy Vitaini, a six-year-old Tangelo Van De Zuuthoeve x Billy Congo mare.

    “She’s really talented and so careful,” she said.

    Bentley X, by Cevin Z, was bred locally by Alex Hempleman, a rider who has partnered plenty of horses for the Billy Stud. Bentley went to Norway and came home a month ago.

    “Alex always thought a lot of Bentley. William took him to Bolesworth and let me ride him here this week,” said Lucy.

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