Rosie Gunn achieved her ambition when she jumped a fantastic round to take the 128cm championship on Get Ready Freddie. “Blink and you’ll miss it,” said the commentator, and Rosie and her little chestnut were a blurr en route to a great win.
Second place went to young Welshman Robbie Jenkins, who chose to go steady on his little grey Show Me Heaven.
Nottingham-based Rosie, 11, is a former Royal International champion with Get Ready Freddie, but she missed out by a fraction last year to Pippa Allen on Silver Wonder.
Cheered on by a huge contingent of supporters from her family’s riding school, she was determination itself this time.
“Freddie is the best pony ever,” said Rosie, who dedicated her win to Ollie Liley, the young show jumper who died earlier this year after a long battle against a debilitating illness.
Pippa Allen had three ponies in the 138cm championship, but it was her “third string”, the seven-year-old pure-bred Welsh Cob, Sakama Chezni, who triumphed over ponies with double his age and experience.
Pippa and the bouncy little chestnut jumped a great jump-off round and depsite taking one long route were still quick enough to beat Dominique Whittaker and My Bugsy Malone by more than 1sec.
Although she is only 12 years old, Cleveland-based Pippa will probably now move full-time on to 148cm ponies.
“But I’ll be really sorry if Cheszi is sold. He’s just a great character,” she said.
Xerox Special Event Services Cup
Despite an early draw, John Whitaker proved unbeatable in the Xerox Special Event Services Cup. The Yorkshireman jumped a smooth clear on Julia Lee’s French-bred Hugo Du Heup and then watched all his rivals fail to catch him.
The closest was William Funnell, who was an agonising 0.02sec behind on Denise Stamp’s veteran mare Cortaflex Amber Du Montois.
“I wasn’t actually going for a win. I just wanted to jump a nice round,” said John, who was pleased with the 11-year-old Hugo’s performance at his first indoor show of the year.
William Whitaker showed all the talent that carried him to this year’s junior European Championship when he jumped a terrific round on a new ride, Arielle, in the accumulator.
The 17-year-old Yorkshireman, who became the leading junior jumper at last year’s show, never missed a beat on the grey Hanoverian mare and it took rounds from three of the best in the world to beat him.
In the end, the £4,500 first prize went to Dutchman Eric van der Vleuten on his Swedish mare Audi’s Owendel, with Michael Whitaker just behind on Merva Des Hayettes and Nick Skelton third on Lisa Hales’s stallion Russel. They are all looking over their shoulders at William, though.
“I don’t think there are many riders who could go from ponies one year to top international classes the next,” assessed Michael.