Holly Smith topped a huge field of class competitors to claim pole position by 2.49sec with the exciting Denver — a victory she put down to stride patterns
Holly Smith and Denver (pictured) were at the top of their game to take a searingly competitive 18-strong jump-off for the end-of-tour grand prix, a 1.50m Tokyo qualifier at Vejer De La Frontera CSI2*, Spain.
“It was a two-star, but the level of the field was more like a five-star,” Holly said. “There are so many good riders here, it’s a job just to qualify for the grand prix.”
Jumping from penultimate draw, the 12-year-old ex-eventer was at his athletic best to switch fluidly from a ground-eating stride to neat and well-executed turnbacks.
Their masterful performance axed 2.49sec from the lead of on-form Germans David Will and C Vier 2, with Ireland’s Denis Lynch and Cristello collecting third place.
“He’s a very adjustable horse,” Holly said. “Like most jump-offs nowadays, it’s all about stride patterns, even on the longer runs. We won it on the run to the double where most people did 11, 12 or more strides; we made it on 10.
“It was a difficult line to the double with a tall vertical going in, but his eventing experience means he doesn’t worry about the angle he’s coming in on, he just stays focused.”
Ian Dowie’s Albfuehren’s Memphis x Chico’s Boy gelding was due a win as he had been unlucky to tip a rail in the jump-off of the preceding week’s grand prix in Vilamoura, where his time had been “there or thereabouts”. He had also just added an unfortunate four faults in Saturday’s (28 November) Nations Cup, producing the strongest performance of the British squad.
The team contest had been postponed from Friday due to torrential rain, and it was not a lucky day for the British, who finished 16th out of 17 teams. The Germans took their second consecutive victory, with just four faults, followed by Denmark on six and Ireland on eight.
Joining Holly on the British team were Alexandra Thornton (Chades Of Blue), who had two rails on a related distance, and Joe Stockdale, who tipped just the one vertical and added one time-penalty on Joy Cocklin’s exciting nine-year-old Cacharel. Matt Sampson and his own nine-year-old Cristo Beech were the discard score after being eliminated when the horse took a dislike to the water and later span around.
Brit flies in the sun
Laura Renwick enjoyed a strong conclusion to eight weeks in Spain and Portugal. She was on unbeatable form on the Friday, taking back-to-back two-star and three-star 1.45m victories with Dublin V and Top Dollar VI.
“It was a good day at the office as they were both big classes,” said Laura, who topped the line-up on 12-year-old Dublin V by 2.67sec.
“He’s a deceptively fast horse, he never looks quick but he really covers the ground.
“Dollar has also been incredibly consistent both here and in Vilamoura. All in all it was a good trip and that’s us done for the year now.”
Ref: Horse & Hound; 3 December 2020
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