Last Monday, PLA Halo Diamond returned to Louise Saywell, having spent lockdown with his owner — six days later, the pair became British Showjumping national champions at Bolesworth.
The 12-year-old gelding had been kept ticking over while competition was off but this was his first show with Louise since February.
Rafael Suarez’s NAF Five Star Superflex British Showjumping grand prix track was testing, whittling the 66 starters down to 17 for the jump-off, and it proved to be a world-class competition, with the top three finishing within just over a second.
Local rider Keith Shore had taken the lead from second draw, on Djoel, and held it through challenges from contenders including Holly Smith, William and Pippa Funnell, Douglas Duffin and Kara Chad.
The jump-off comprised tight turns and long gallops, which suited Halo Diamond.
“He prefers galloping to turning because he’s so careful” she said. “But he made all the turns, and just kept galloping.”
Michael Elvin’s Irish-bred gelding had jumped some national classes with Flora Young in July and Louise had feared he might be rusty at this height.
“But obviously not!” she said. “This is his biggest win yet, it’s unbelievable to be national champion. It was a tough competition;
Holly Smith had three in the jump-off including a five-star horse, but I can guarantee that this horse will go in and give you 110% every time.”
Grade C Championship
Chantelle Duggan took the prestigious Higher Silcock Stables grade C championship, on Linton De La Chapellea, year after she broke her neck in a freak accident.
Chantelle underwent major spinal surgery last summer, after a young horse she had just mounted threw its head up and caught her under the chin and knocked her out.
“The doctors said if I’d tripped, I’d have been paralysed from the neck down,” she said. “I never thought I’d be walking again, let alone riding.”
Chantelle was overjoyed to win on the seven-year-old, in a top-class field.
“My mum wasn’t there, but watching the live stream, and I texted her and she said ‘forget it, they’re going fast’. I said ‘shall I just keep kicking?’
“It was a good course for him as he likes to go forward and have the handbrake off. He likes it when it’s just me and him at shows; he’s a bit of a mummy’s boy!
“It’s massive to have done this. I think this horse will jump grands prix; he’ll go all the way.”
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