H&H catches up with Holly Smith’s stable jockey Nicole Lockhead Anderson, who is dominating the top placings in Bolesworth’s young horse international classes…
Make a note of the name, Nicole Lockhead Anderson, because this is a young rider you need to have on your radar.
Nicole, stable jockey to Tokyo-bound Holly Smith, has scooped a brace of wins plus four other top-10 placings across six stars across the young horse and three-star international classes at the Dodson & Horrell Bolesworth International Horse Show.
“I’m very lucky to get so many opportunities and to have an amazing job working for Holly. She’s helped me a lot and I’m very grateful for all the opportunities I get,” said the 19-year-old.
Her first win of the week came aboard Emerald Irish Cruise in Wednesday’s CSIYH* six-year-old 1.20m two-phase class, sponsored by Al Shira’aa.
“She’s very talented and very brave. The course suited her as she’s not very big, so she’s quite nifty in a jump-off,” said Nicole, adding the Cruising mare joined Holly’s yard around five months ago.
Nicole completed the double with victory in Friday’s CSIYH* Al Shira’aa five-year-old 1.15m two-phase class with Simon Fryer’s Lorenzo, slipping ahead of Laura Renwick and Angelina, who took the runner-up spot.
“He’s a lovely, lovely horse. We’ve only had him three weeks and he just makes everything feel really easy. He’s very talented. Holly’s helped me a lot with my riding and it’s really paying off with the young ones,” she said.
“He’s got a very cheeky personality, but he goes in the ring, he knows what to do and he loves his job.
“The course really suited him as it was really nice and flowing. I didn’t see Laura’s round, and I didn’t feel overly quick on him because he’s got such a big stride. I knew that from the vertical to the double I could stay slightly inside and probably get the eight, and he just cruised up and everything just felt really easy. He’s very manoeuvrable and it just happened really nicely.
“He arrived at Hickstead and he was clear every day at Hickstead and then he came here and it’s been clear the first two days. I’m very lucky to ride him!
“We’re very lucky at home, we’ve got all the facilities and he does a lot of hacking around the farm and they’re very rarely in the arena. They don’t tend to jump a lot at home. We do a lot of hacking around the fields and keep them sweet. When they’re young, you don’t want to jump them every day.”
She added: “The courses have been very nice this week. The distances are all good, there’s a bit of room in them, so you’re not pulling them up and everyone’s got to go the same way, so it’s not too much of a rat race – the fences need respect.”
Nicole was part of the gold medal-winning British pony team at the 2018 European Championships with Gangnam Style, and credited Holly for helping her make the transition onto horses.
Her job involves riding a lot of the younger horses and she said she loves finding out all their individual characters.
“We mix and match a lot, I ride a lot of the younger ones and we just work it between us and it works well,” she explained.
“They’re all very cheeky. They’ve all got their own personalities and they go in the ring and do their best, so they can be what they like.
“I really enjoy riding different ones and I’m very lucky that I get to ride so many. I can’t thank Holly enough for all the opportunities.
“Even just watching her, you learn so much. She’s always there to give you some help or at the end of the phone. She’s at home today, but she’s on the end of the phone if we need anything.
“We’ll be supporting [Holly in Tokyo] from home – it will be great. I’m so pleased for her, there’s nobody that deserves it more. She’s the hardest worker I know.”
The opportunities have not just involved coloured poles. Holly’s husband, Graham Smith, is joint-master and huntsman of the Readyfield Bloodhounds, and Nicole spends a chunk of the winter following hounds and whipping-in.
“We actually take some of the younger jumpers, the ones that are a bit green,” said Nicole.
“There’s always some hunters in and we were very lucky on a Sunday that we can go out and have some fun with the bloodhounds. I’d never hunted before I came to Holly’s, so it’s something different – you’ve got no choice [when you’re on a horse on the hunting field] – you’re going!
“It really sweetens them up. We’re very lucky we have the facilities we do and every day is different.”
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