Ronnie Lee Jones: ‘The Blue Chips lost none of its atmosphere at Addington’

  • Successful and well-respected rider, producer and trainer, Ronnie Lee Jones, shares his thoughts on a successful running of the Blue Chip showjumping championships at a new venue and the importance of good sportsmanship

    The new-look Blue Chip Winter Showjumping Championships, held at Addington Equestrian last week, give everyone something to aim for. The amateurs have a goal to work towards over the winter and people with younger horses can produce them through the qualifiers. Then for riders jumping grands prix, it marks the end of the winter season and a chance to see how they’re upping their game ready for the summer ahead.

    My partner Alex and I have a really good group of 10 kids we’re training at the moment, so it was nice to have the horses and ponies together at the same show. I was able to walk the grand prix course with some of them, which gave them an opportunity to get a feel for the track and for distances.

    The kids had their own finals to ride in – we had three in the novice and three in the discovery, and Daisy Newman and Pip Loveman came first and second in the Pikeur pony novice final. I was a bit sad that one of them had to lose to the other, as I wanted them both to win! But they were really happy for each other – we try to instil good sportsmanship in all those we train.

    What was particularly nice was how generous the sponsors were. I thought first place might get all the goodies, but down the line they were giving stuff away. Being runner-up also meant taking away armfuls of caps, socks and plaques.

    It was the first time a lot of the kids had been to Addington and it would be great if they could have some pony shows on their calendar – I’m sure they’d be well supported by riders and parents, who certainly appreciate a nice facility when all the family comes.

    A great atmosphere

    Fortunately, no atmosphere was lost in the move from Hartpury to Addington. There were the familiar Blue Chip lights and banners, as well as the tradestands down one side of the indoor arena. It would be nice to see the national championships at Stoneleigh take a leaf out of the Blue Chips’ book – that could be the best show of the year but in comparison, it does lack in atmosphere.

    Addington is as good a facility as Hartpury, if not a bit more European. The improved outdoor rings and new surfaces are fantastic. The indoor arena surface was also kept well-watered and harrowed, which is important when you have classes with such big numbers. Not everyone liked it when it was first laid, but you could see in the grand prix how well horses were jumping off it.

    Normally you’d expect the number of first-round clears to be in single figures, but 16 made it through. It was a technical course, so hats off to them for their arena management, but it’s pleasing to see we have a decent amount of horses on the circuit competing at that standard.

    I just had the last fence down with Kaleche, who has had a break and is just getting back into it. I jumped the 1.35m on her the day before and she cantered straight past the first fence, I think she was half asleep. I just giggled to myself, patted her and carried on!

    We’ll be heading to Chard International next, then Alex will go to the Nations Cup in Paris with Ted Bastion-Mason, who we train and who’s riding Alex’s stallion on the children-on-horses team. I’m still hoping to get on a Nations Cup team myself this year, but one of our trainees got there first!

    ● Did you attend the new-look Blue Chips? What did you think? Let us know at hhletters@futurenet.com, including your name, nearest town and country, for the chance for your letter to appear in a forthcoming issue of the magazine

    • This exclusive column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 11 April

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