H&H Champs: Journey from Scotland pays off for victorious young rider and pony

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Young rider Daisy Cross maintained a cool head to keep her position at the top of the 100cm leaderboard with her pony Ebony at the inaugural Horse & Hound Grassroots Eventing Championships.

It was a worthwhile journey down from Scotland for the 16-year-old rider who remained on her impressive dressage score of 27.25 throughout.

“It feels amazing to have won,” said Daisy. “I was reasonably nervous beforehand but the showjumping course was nice and really suited my mare.

Going into the showjumping on day three of the H&H Championships, there was a mere 0.9 of a penalty separating first to third placings — so there was absolutely no room for error.

The runner-up spot went to Katherine Peden riding Rufus, while Saturday’s dressage leader Paula Jane Holden and her flashy grey gelding Falco II settled for third place. The latter pair frustratingly picked up 2.4 time-penalties across country for going too fast.

All three combinations pulled clear rounds out of the bag on the final day — leaving the top-three standings unchanged after the final phase.

The H&H Championships were a welcome break from exams for the winning schoolgirl, who flew down on Friday after sitting a geography exam.

“Mum drove Ebony down on Friday and it took her eight hours,” said Daisy. “We’ve both really enjoyed being here at the H&H Championships.”

The young rider and her 14.2hh pony — by far the smallest in the 100cm class — have competed successfully affiliated at BE100 in under-18 classes and hope to go novice towards the end of the season.

“She’s a very consistent pony and is good in all three phases,” said Daisy, who has ridden the 14-year-old for three years.

Daisy will soon be moving onto her first horse, who she also hopes to event, and the ride on Ebony will be passed onto Daisy’s younger sister.

Don’t miss the full report from the Horse & Hound Grassroots Eventing Championships in H&H — on sale Thursday, 8 June.