Showjumping highlights: Riders return in full force to the new-look national sport *H&H Plus*

  • Riders are returning in full force to the new-look national sport, while British and Irish competitors are already making an impact overseas, by Penny Richardson and Jennifer Donald

    Chard, Somerset

    Adrian Whiteway’s first outing since returning from Vilamoura in March turned into a winning one when he and Anytime II took the 1.30m/1.40m class. The Dutch-bred gelding has been a great horse for Bristol-based Adrian, who is getting his string going again before spending two weeks at shows in Belgium.

    “He’s 15 now, but he feels as good as ever. He’s a cool boy,” said Adrian, who spent the lockdown working on his young horses. “The older horses needed a holiday after six weeks in Portugal, where they surpassed my expectations,” explained Adrian, who has had help from John Renwick.

    “I was fed up with coming fourth, so John’s been helping me improve my speed. I’ve been for lessons and we’ve worked on turns,” he said.

    Like most other riders, Adrian has enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and specific times since shows resumed. “I actually much prefer it and I hope they stay the same once we’re over the restrictions. The organisation at Chard was perfect,” he added.

    Northcote, Lancs

    Christina Kenyon has found a novel way to gain some extra income after coaching, livery and stud fees almost disappeared during the lockdown.

    “Things have also been tough for mare owners and AI is expensive, so I decided to offer a half-price natural cover package and I’ve been swamped,” she said. “My boy must wonder what’s happened. He covered a mare on Friday morning, was bathed in the afternoon, stood on the box at Northcote from the British novice until the last class the following day and then had to get out of bed early on Sunday morning to cover another mare!”

    Christina’s Flight View Livery and Stud team returned to action on top form at the show. After Damian Vause won the 90cm and 1.10m open classes with My Other Million and Canterbury Roscoe and Christina’s sister Rose-Marie finished second in the 1m open on Endarlo, Christina rode her home-bred stallion Calypso’s Rampant Million to victory in the major 1.30m/1.40m competition.

    South View, Cheshire

    Riders from the North took the opportunity to compete for up to three days at South View’s first show since lockdown.

    Travelling from Cumbria was a wise decision for Jonathan Dixon whose team of horses dominated the major classes. Jonathan took the 1.30m honours on day one with Bahamas Courage, with his stable jockey Sandy McLean close behind on Gino F.

    On day two, it was Sandy’s turn to top the 1.30m class, and in the final day’s 1.30m/1.40m class, there was another one-two for the pair. This time, Jonathan was the winner on Fiona, with Sandy riding the seven year-old Captain Sharkey – winner of two Foxhunter classes during the show – into second place.

    Jonathan is grateful for Sandy’s help as he currently has 43 horses in work at his yard and works in the family horsebox building business. “Although he’s still only 17, Sandy’s already a very good jockey,” said Jonathan. “Gino F is almost ready for ranking classes and I’m hoping he might be the horse to take Sandy onto youth teams.”

    Ten-year-old Bahamas Courage, who is half-owned by Denise Ollerton, has been with Jonathan for just over a year and has already competed at two-star shows. He also has high hopes for Captain Sharkey, whom he owns with Michael Riley.

    “He’s scopey and rideable and I’m looking forward to seeing him progress,” he said.

    Jonathan thinks that Sunday’s winner, Fiona, could become his top horse. “She’s by Tangelo Van De Zuuthoeve and is a big, heavy type of mare, but she’s incredibly careful. She hates to touch a pole,” he said.

    Although Team Dixon took all the major honours, local rider Martha Newall was also in great form, winning a 1.10m and 1.20m open on Casquetta SN. Martha keeps her mare on a yard within hacking distance of South View, but works full-time as a surveyor for a leading house building company, so can only compete at weekends.

    “I’m a bit shocked to win twice,” said Martha, who has had Casquetta SN for three years. “We’ve done a bit of everything from fun rides to competing twice in the silver league final at HOYS.”

    International news

    Bertram Allen of Ireland was a winner with Lafayette Van Overis at the CSI4* Hubside Jumping in St Tropez after a 17-strong jump-off.
    “I knew we were going to have to go very, very fast,” said Bertram. “We didn’t see any options – everything was in the natural speed of the horses and in the turns. I’m lucky that Lafayette Van Overis is particularly successful at this type of course. The idea was to give everything and not waste time anywhere.”

    Of the lockdown period, he added: “I found it very long, but it was nice for the horses: they were much more relaxed, even if we continued the work. For the grand prix horses, it was just a matter of keeping them in shape and maintaining their morale. For the six- and seven-year-olds, it was cool to be able to give them more time.

    “But of course, it’s even cooler to find your way back to competition.”

    Amanda Derbyshire rode Luibanta BH to a winning double at the CSI2* at Tryon International Equestrian Center, USA. The US-based British rider headed the welcome stake on day one before following up in the $73,000 (£58,500) grand prix.

    “Luibanta has the biggest heart,” she said. “She continues to amaze me every time she steps into the ring. She knows she’s a princess and is really fast!

    “It feels brilliant to be back showing in FEI competition. I think the horses really enjoyed the nice break, but you definitely realise how much you miss competing and how it’s your life.”

    Ref Horse & Hound; 9 July 2020