Henry Squibb is crowned leading JA rider as he enjoys a very successful show, while an 18-year-old mare eyes up her fourth Hickstead final at the Pony of the Year Show, Arena UK
THERE is nothing like success to breed success, and Henry Squibb is riding high. Two weeks after earning the Charles Britton winter JA classic championship with Kilcurry Dawn, Henry claimed the JA grand prix among his haul of five classes with five different ponies, also claiming the leading JA rider award.
“When he’s happy, he’s willing to jump anything – and that’s always good,” said Henry of Kilcurry Dawn (pictured).
The JA track tested ability and nerve in heavy rain as course-designer Neil Theobald set committed lines and, of the 25 competitors forward, just four posted clears with nine either eliminated or retired. Under A9 grand prix rules, five qualified for the jump-off, with Tabitha Kyle returning on fastest four-faulter Atomic Du Bary, giving her three rides.
Atomic faulted again but Tabitha immediately returned to secure the lead with Gangnam Style. Her lead was short-lived; Henry was tighter and quicker, gambling a turn to the final oxer to cut out 0.65sec.
The final fence proved crucial as both Sophie Evans on Oscar VD Beekerheide and Tabitha with third ride Orchids Vienna were faster, but it fell on both occasions.
Training in lockdown with John Renwick has been the turning point for Henry.
“The track was technical and beefy, you had to be confident as every fence came quickly and the weather conditions probably added 25% of the test. But John gives me the belief in myself – I can do it,” said Henry, 14, who has grown with the 13-year-old Westside Mirah stallion “Chocco”. “We know each other well and I can’t remember the last time he had a fence down.”
John added: “Henry’s just getting better and better, he’s got the confidence and as long as he rides Chocco right, he’ll leave the jumps up.”
An 11-pony jump-off decided the winter JC, with Henry and his nine-year-old 2020 newcomers champion Clyde Barrows winning with 1.25 sec.
“Lockdown hasn’t affected him, he’s just carried on from where he was in October. The third round was decent for up-and-coming ponies but his jump-off round was his best,” said Henry, who added a JA qualifier with Casino Royale, Sultan Du Bary topped a talent spotters qualifier and Carmelia’s Girl concluded his tally with a 1m win.
A busy Tabitha Kyle, who switched effortlessly from ponies to horses throughout the week, is targeting her third consecutive win at Hickstead after heading the winter 138cm second round on the Belgian-bred 10-year-old Playboy Van De Zoetewei.
The pair, also winners at HOYS in 2019, topped the six-pony decider with 3.71sec in hand over Hollie Gerken, in second with the only other treble clear on Bear Me In Mind.
WHINNEY LASS TAKES IT IN HER STRIDE
THE incredible Whinney Lass broke records by winning the Hickstead 128cm final for the third consecutive year – 2018 and 2019 with Izabella Rogers and 2020 with her sister Sophia. The 18-year-old mare will be targeted for a historic fourth win as Sophia topped the winter 128cm second round with 1.8sec to spare in a three-strong jump-off.
“The course was technical, not big but made me feel nervous as it was lines with turnbacks I hadn’t ridden before. But Whinney took it in her stride, listened to me and we both stayed calm,” said Sophia.
Connie Mensley, 11, only meets Sharifa Al Homazi’s Sparkel III at shows but they have built up a tremendous rapport and, two weeks after taking South View’s Hickstead 128cm qualifier, they were at the top of the 128cm grand prix podium.
“Sparkel was incredible, she’s 23 years old and tiny; I don’t know where she finds it from but she keeps finding more and the twisty course suited us because she’s so agile. I’m so grateful to Sharifa for the opportunity to ride her,” said Connie.
Just three of 18 starters survived to reach the jump-off of the under-18 grand prix, with Ava Vernon gaining the title on Jolie Fleur Van De Noordheuvel with the sole clear.
“The track was technical and big enough but she has an insane amount of scope and a heart of gold, I’m so lucky,” said Ava, 17, on the Cassini II x Dollar De La Pierre 12-year-old sourced by trainer Holly Smith 18 months ago. “Holly walked the course and filled me with confidence saying I’d jumped bigger, to go in there and smash it!”
Charlie Atkinson claimed the children-on-horses title in a seven-horse decider with Concert Z, a Condillo 3 x Kojak 10-year-old bought from John Whitaker before lockdown last year. Consequently, the pair have only competed at 10 shows and this was their first win.
“He’s sharp but a great jumper with plenty of scope, so I keep him smooth and quiet,” said Charlie, 15, who is based with Guy Williams and will now focus on a few shows abroad to gain experience.
MONKEY BY NAME…
SARAH PROUDLEY outpaced her bigger counterparts to take the talent spotters grand prix from the 138cm section by 01.6sec on Carl Everest’s Monkey Munchkin, a 16-year-old who lives up to his name.
“He’s so cheeky, we give him the best stable at home. In the ring he’s a speed machine and gives me so much confidence, he’s good at turns and across the floor,” said Sarah.
Ryan Perrett secured the win with 2.27sec to spare in the 1.10m grand prix 10-strong jump-off with Ruby Trevelyan Of Lyonnesse, a 16-year-old he inherited 12 months ago from his sister Emma.
“She’s fairly level but cheeky, brightens up when she sees a fence and always tries hard for me. I was tight on the turns and kicked on down the distances, she’s quick at covering the ground,” said Ryan, 15, who thanked the organisers and sponsors for the great prizes. “I won a nice pair of jodhpurs and Equine America vouchers.”
Kate Anderson, 11, emerged triumphant in the lightning-quick 18-pony jump-off on Coolcronan Thunder to decide the 11-year-old and under grand prix.
“He’s always chilled but so fast across the ground, he gives me confidence,” said Kate on her 14-year-old 2020 stepping stones 138cm champion.
Among the other riders who got their chance to shine as they collected winning rugs and sashes were Holly Bundy, who claimed the 1m title on Drumcrew Prince, and Cecile Sykes rode Colours Of Romeo to victory in the intro grand prix, Olivia Burton was crowned mini champion with Carlton Guinness.
A convincing win for Barrs
RUBY BARRS not only provided one of only two clears in a nine-strong jump-off, she claimed the 138cm title by a whopping 10 seconds with Rathcoona James (pictured). The 11-year-old joined her 18 months ago, but it hasn’t been easy.
“It took the whole of last year to get together. He’s sensitive, but Mark Kyle has been a tremendous help and I’ve learned to keep James nice and chilled and let him do it his own way. This was our biggest track to date and I did a few turns but didn’t go crazy,” said Ruby, 14.
This column can also be read in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 6 May
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