‘He’ll jump the moon’: young showjumpers emerge from lockdown in flying form *H&H Plus*

  • Henry Squibb lands the feature class with Kilcurry Dawn as huge fields of young jockeys emerge from lockdown in flying form at the Winter Pony Championship, South View, Cheshire

    HENRY SQUIBB kept a cool head and used the power and scope of Kilcurry Dawn to land the prestigious Charles Britton Equestrian Construction winter JA classic.

    “The key is to keep him confident, he’ll jump the moon if he’s happy,” said the on-form Henry, winner of the previous day’s 1.25m and the only rider with two in the jump-off.

    Course-designer Gillian Milner’s 13-fence test questioned rideability, scope, carefulness and nerve for the 25 riders forward. An early skinny stile and the combination proved problematic. Only four found all the answers.

    Rachel Proudley dismissed her fall from The Bobster late in round one to come back fighting in the jump-off on Charlotte Shore’s Robin Hood Lad to provide a sensible clear over the now sizeable track.

    “I was first in, had to be sharp and concentrate, the jump-off was beefy but the bigger they get, the more consistent he is,” she said.

    Her lead was short-lived. Henry played every tip from John Renwick’s advice to wipe an incredible six seconds off the time on the Westside Mirah 13-year-old stallion known as Choco.

    “Lockdown has actually helped me; I’ve been focusing on my riding instead of a show every weekend. My other pony Casino Royale has helped me enormously with confidence as he knows everything, and I train with John twice a week,” explained Henry, 14, also fourth on second ride Clyde Barrows, the current newcomers champion, behind third-placed Tabitha Kyle’s Atomic Du Bary.

    “My Granddad [Les Squibb, long-time sponsor of the HOYS pony Foxhunter] bought Clyde Barrows for me before he died so he’s special. This was his first time at this level, my Granddad would have been so proud. I like to think he was looking down on me.”


    RACHEL claimed a winter JC win with a new ride. David Lawson’s 12-year-old Northbeech Forever Rhodri arrived five weeks ago and jumped the sole treble clear to take victory.

    Rachel Proudley Northbeech Forever Rhodri

    Just three from 52 starters reached the jump-off with Rachel pitted against Tabitha when Olivia Sponer, guaranteed qualification, withdrew Conella II at this point. Rachel opted for a sensible clear and it paid off – Tabitha was more than three seconds quicker with the 13-year-old stallion Dazaro, but the final vertical fell.

    “I asked Rachel to get his last two Foxhunter double clears [to qualify second rounds], she did that straight off and now to win this – it’s phenomenal,” said David.

    “It was only our third show and he’s come on a lot. He didn’t have any confidence but he’s got better each time,” said Rachel. “The last round was big – 1.30m – and it was his best round.”

    Eve McCoy may be the daughter of former champion jockey AP McCoy but speed wasn’t the key factor in the winter 138cm – it was all about jumping as the cool-headed 13-year-old guided Misty Bay II into victory.

    Eight of the original 31 competitors battled for five Hickstead places in the final round, with second-drawn Eve and the 18-year-old mare producing the goods.

    “The track was beefy but that suited, she’s buzzy – bigger fences make her concentrate,” said Eve. “I didn’t go crazy, kept control and my head in the game.”

    Eve McCoy Misty Bay II

    Connie Mensley, 11, only meets Sharifa Al Homaizi’s 23-year-old Sparkel III at shows but their easy-going partnership paid handsomely in the winter 128cm as they claimed top spot by 1.78sec in the eight-pony jump-off.

    “She’s easy, has the biggest heart, gives her best and she knows what she’s doing,” said Connie, who is now targeting Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) and Olympia – “because I’ve only got this year left in 128cm.”

    Connie Mensley Sparkel III


    TARA SWEETNAM doubled her chances in the 10-pony decider of the Springboard 128cm final – and commanded the top two places, winning on last-drawn 18-year-old Priestwood Hardy with Claughan Casper in second.

    “I’ve ridden ‘Harry’ for 18 months but it’s taken time to get together because of lockdown,” said Tara. “I started at 70cm but quickly moved up because he’s so energetic and runs. I owe a lot to his previous rider Millie Lawson, she knows all the tricks and he’s such a personality, especially where food is concerned.”

    Tara, 11, who lives in London and rides her ponies only twice a week, also relies on advice from her father Brian and her uncle, US-based Irish international rider Shane Sweetnam.

    Speed and mega-tight turns claimed the 11-year-old and under 128cm final for Raffy Dawson, 10, on Trefriw Eros.

    “He loves a jump-off and I love going fast,” said Berkshire-based Raffy, who has been riding since age three and started in British Showjumping six years later.

    The 13-year-old “Ernie” joined her 18 months ago.

    “He’s relaxed and sweet at home, he licks your hand when feeding him treats, but he’s bright in the ring,” added Raffy, who has ambitions for HOYS, Olympia and Liverpool.

    Sophia Hogan claimed the 11-year-old and under 138cm title in an eight-pony decider on Jessie Mae Harmony by more than two seconds. It was the pair’s first championship win.

    “At home she’s sassy and moody but in the ring she’s calmer and knows what to do,” said Sophia, 11. “The course suited her, she’s a gallopy pony – I nearly ran into a fence on a turn, but I kept my leg on and a contact.”

    “One of the biggest tracks I’ve jumped”

    Tilly Dickinson-Gaunt Airbourne Freddie

    TILLY DICKINSON-GAUNT secured her first championship title with the only clear in the seven-pony jump-off of the Springboard 138cm final with the 18-year-old Airbourne Freddie (pictured).

    “It’s one of the biggest tracks I’ve jumped. I only got him in October and this is the sixth time we’ve been in the ring but he’s fun, knows his job and helps me out,” said Essex-based Tilly, 12, who trains with Nettie Lewis.

    “I didn’t go for the sharp turns as we don’t know each other so the long runs in the track suited us. He brightens up at a show and can be strong.”

    This report is also available to read in this Thursday’s H&H magazine (22 April, 2021)

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