Ros Canter was in top form as she dominated both the CCI3*-L sections at Saracen Horse Feeds Houghton International
WORLD champion Ros Canter kept her cool under pressure in Saracen Horse Feeds Houghton International’s crucible of a main arena to win both CCI3*-L classes.
Ros cantered into the main arena as overnight leader and last rider to jump in both sections, and there was little room for error in the final phase.
Ros and the “really honest” nine-year-old mare Shannondale Nadia had one fence in hand in section B and she had just a handful of time penalties to play with in order to retain her lead in section C aboard Izilot DHI. But Ros is world champion for a reason, and that icy coolness she showed when she sealed gold in Tryon was there again on both her winning rides.
She produced two textbook showjumping rounds, stopping the clock a fraction of a second over the optimum time for 0.4 of a time-penalty with both horses.
“[Shannondale Nadia] has taken a little bit of working out, but she’s the most genuine, lovely, laid-back mare,” said Ros, adding the mare has “always promised a lot”. “She’s just a lovely person to have around at home, so she really deserves it.”
Ros and the mare’s owner, Sharon Bayston, bought her as a three-year-old from Shannondale Stud and she said it has been a “team effort” with a lot of help from Caroline Moore to find the key to her.
“She would naturally run long into a fence, which suits a lot of horses, but she’s not very effective from that canter — but that’s the canter she picks,” said Ros, explaining they’ve worked on getting her into a shape that is effective and she finds comfortable.
“I’ve learnt that I must communicate a lot more with her all the way around the course, whereas I would naturally just like to ride with a soft hand and a steady rhythm, with her she needs a bit of help after every fence.”
Section B incorporated the British under-21 championships, won by Oliver Jackson and Viktor Krum, who were also second overall (see subhead, below), with Laura Collett and Moonlight Charmer third (29.9).
“I’m delighted with him, he was lying fourth at Le Lion last year, then didn’t trot up as he had pus in the foot, so it’s nice to finally have the three-star long on him,” said Laura.
“He jumped beautifully, he’s been a little bit hit and miss with his showjumping this year. He’s got all the jump in the world, but he doesn’t always focus, however he really focused in there and tried really hard.
“He’s taken until now to finish filling out and growing — he’s a beautiful horse and has just taken until now and will probably still even be a better horse again next year. Strength-wise, he’s just now building up, but he’s very easy and genuine.”
This was the first three-day event of the season, owing to Covid cancellations, and the first to have a decent crowd and atmosphere since the Government eased lockdown restrictions.
Ros added her section C winner, Izilot DHI, whom she co-owns with Nick and Alex Moody, is a “class horse” for the future.
“I bought him from Ian Woodhead as a rising five-year-old and he was pretty sharp from the word go,” she said. “He’s been one of these horses where he either wins, or it’s quite challenging, and it’s really come together this week.”
Oliver Townend and the dapple grey mare Cooley Rosalent followed up their Burnham Market CCI3*-S win with the runner-up spot behind Ros on 25.7. Nicola Wilson and new ride Coolparks Sarco were third, finishing on their 27.1 dressage score.
“James and Jo Lambert bought him from Andrew Nicholson and he was produced by Vicky Brake. He’s a lovely horse, he’s been an absolute gentleman and beautifully produced by Vicky and Andrew, as you would expect,” said Nicola.
“He is an absolute delight and has that lovely little bit of character, little bit of cheekiness about him, and is a pleasure to ride in all three phases.”
‘Over the moon’
EMILY KING and Imposant held their dressage lead to win the 109-strong CCI2*-L.
The pair produced two flawless jumping rounds to add nothing to their 23.9 dressage, with Laura Collett and Outback II in second on 25.1 and Piggy March with Cooley Goodwood third on 25.2.
“I’m absolutely over the moon with him, he did just what I asked. He’s quite an anxious horse and he’s never really jumped in a ring as big as that with the crowd, so I didn’t really know how he was going to respond,” said Emily of the Kerr-Dineen family’s eight-year-old.
It was certainly Emily’s turn to have some luck. The pair fell on the flat while in the lead at Osberton at Thoresby in 2020 and this was also Emily’s first event back since breaking her hand, without falling off, while cross-country schooling on another horse.
“He’s a real anxious thing, but has so much potential, he just needs to trust his ability,” she said, adding the three-day format has really helped him settle.
“I could feel he had the ability when he came, it was just whether his mind was going to be relaxed enough. But the more he’s done, the better he’s got.”
Such was the quality of the field that nobody in the top 10 could afford a rail in the final phase. Kitty King, who was lying second after cross-country aboard MHS Monbeg Junior, dropped down to 14th for clipping a rail at the downhill oxer at fence nine and the top 20 all had sub-30 finishing scores.
Fourth place went to Eliza Stoddart and the 2019 British five-year-old and 2019 Nexgen six-year-old champion Codebreaker.
“He really galloped and loved every minute of it and showed that he’s got the potential to hopefully go further, so we are really excited about him,” said Eliza.
“He’s got quite a big ego and seems to have all the talent, I would love to find a few more like him! He just loves his job.”
‘When he sees a jump, he goes for it’
OLIVER JACKSON took his first major title with victory in the under-21 championship. The combination has been knocking on the door of a big win, with third places at both Osberton at Thoresby CCI3*-L 2020 and Burnham Market CCI3*-S in April.
The teenager rode with a maturity beyond his 19 years in the final phase and could not find enough ways to praise his “perfect” horse.
“He’s just the sweetest boy, he just has such a kind nature about him, but when he sees a jump, he goes for it — he knows what he is doing,” said Oliver. “He just ate up the cross-country, was perfect on all the lines and didn’t put a foot wrong.
“He loves the atmosphere, he builds up to it, he loves these big events. I like to think I’m pretty good under pressure, but [having crowds back] always adds something. It’s always good to perform in front of a crowd, it makes the wins even better.”
Georgina Wood, 21, and Coronel MCJ were second in the young rider championship and fifth overall.
“We had a good test to start with, then cross-country I knew we had to go inside the time, luckily he is a really quick horse so he helped me out massively there,” said Georgina.
Full report from Houghton International, including the CCIO4* and Nations Cup competitions, is also available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 3 June 2021
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