Any show at Hickstead is always interesting, but the Longines Royal International Horse Show is one of the best. It is an exclusive championship event that riders have to qualify for. The showing section is extremely competitive, and winning either the British Horse Society Supreme Horse or the Underwood Supreme Pony titles is a lifetime highlight for any showing rider.
The New Zealand RAS Equestrian Youth Squad are attending the show and having a blast by the look of their Facebook updates. They have already been to the Royal Welsh Show. Chloe Roach, Amy Sage, Tyler Porteous, Maia Waretini-Anderson, Lily Moss and Denby Rose Tait are the riders, accompanied by Megan Hawkins (manager) and Tryphena Carter.
The team will learn a lot for sure, and fitting all their purchases into their luggage limits to come home will be a challenge. The shopping at Hickstead is legendary. After Hickstead, they head to Malvern for the NPS Show where they will compete against British and Australian teams in three different phases: Junior Judging, Ridden and In-hand. Some of the horses and ponies they will ride are Horse of the Year qualifiers and title-winners.
They were on hand to cheer their fellow New Zealanders along in the highly competitive Amlin Plus Eventers’ Challenge and it must have helped as the Kiwis were second (Tim Price on The Precious One), fourth (Sir Mark Todd on NZB Campino) and sixth (Dan Jocelyn on Blackthorn Cruise).
Ireland’s Elizabeth Power (more often called Esib) took the win and the £3,000 first prize on Doonaveeragh O One with the fastest of only two clears. The horse, known as ‘Tommy’ at home, has a remarkable record at Hickstead.
With Esib’s brother Robert, he came third in the Amlin Plus Eventing Grand Prix, the former incarnation of this popular class, back in 2012. The pair followed this by winning the Bunn Leisure Speed Derby in 2014, and had a crack at the Equestrian.com Derby 12 months later.
Last summer, Esib took back the ride for the first running of the Amlin Plus Eventers’ Challenge, where the pair finished runners-up to Andrew Nicholson. Last month, they produced a super round in the Equestrian.com Derby to finish 10th, before returning to Hickstead’s International Arena to pick up their first Eventers’ Challenge winner’s sash.
“Anything any Power has ever done at Hickstead has been on this horse!” joked Esib afterwards. “He’s amazing – he hasn’t jumped a cross-country fence since he was here last year. He can jump big fences for fun and he’s the bravest horse I’ve ever sat on – I’d ride down to a house on him.”
‘Tommy’ started his competitive life as an eventer, but has been concentrated mainly on show jumping, to protect his limbs from the wear and tear of galloping across country.
In second place was Tim Price, who produced the fastest round of the day on The Precious One, but a pole down added 4sec to his time and cost him the win. Tim really rates this horse, despite having had him only a few months. They have ‘clicked’ and Tim even likened him to the fabulous (but currently injured) Wesko.
Laura Collett (Mr Bass) was best of the Brits in third, ahead of Sir Mark Todd (NZB Campino) in fourth. Sir Mark had been giving it a good crack, cutting corners everywhere but couldn’t quite pull it off.
In the first international class of the day, the Bunn Leisure Vase, Billy Twomey won on board Thomas. The pair also won the Ton Hudson Derby Trophy at Hickstead last month.
“He went well at the Derby meeting, and he’s improving all the time. He takes quite a hold in front of the fence, so with a big ring like this it gives me more time to organise him. But he’s always looking out for the next jump and he just seemed to be on it today,” said Billy.
In the Bunn Leisure Trophy, Italy’s Juan Carlos Garcia won with Gitano V Berkenbroeck. “It’s my second time here, it’s a fantastic show with great traditions and one of the few places you can come and compete on grass in a big arena,” he said.
On Wednesday, Holly Smith (née Gillott) was on winning form once again, winning the Winter Grades B & C Championship with Quality Old Joker, an eight-year-old Irish Sport Horse.
Nine combinations made it through to the jump-off, with Holly going third from last. A well-judged round saw her knock nearly 3sec off the time.
“He’s 17.3hh and big with it, so he’s not the most conventional, but he’s honest,” said Holly. “The jump-off really suited him and I knew it would. He can turn on a sixpence – he’s light on his feet for a big horse.”
It’s been a very successful few weeks for the English rider, who was married on July 1, had several wins at last month’s Hickstead Derby meeting and had already won the 1.35m that day with Carolus K. Her husband, Graham, bought Quality Old Joker as a four-year-old. “He came back with him and said ‘I’ve bought you a jumper’ and I wasn’t impressed at first – he’s so different to anything else I’ve got. He’s so sensitive as he’s got loads of blood, so you have to sit very quietly.
“He’s also really versatile – he jumped a puissance at Bolesworth and he can do speed trials… You’d think he wouldn’t be quick, but actually, he is.”
In the showing classes, 15-year-old Josephine Ready took the Supreme Show Hunter Pony Championship with Wolferlow Esperanto. The eight-year-old chestnut had previously competed at medium-level dressage.
Last year’s BHS Supreme Horse winner Jayne Ross came back and successfully defended her title in the Supreme Hunter Championship with the prolific mare Time 2 Reflect.
Kavanaghs Imperial Assal was crowned champion in the Pure Bred Ridden Arabian Championship, ridden by Laura Rowe. ‘Freddy’ is Laura’s first Arab and she bought him as a two-year-old. “I only bought him to sell on, but I can’t part with him. He was tricky at the start, but now I’ve got his confidence it’s like being sat in a rocking chair.”
Pippa Duncan and Gruguar Skylark took the Ponies (UK) Dalkeith Young Riders M&M Championship. ‘Sky’ was produced by Terri Guyett, who explains this is only Pippa’s second season in showing. “She’s only just out of first-ridden this season. She’s never even watched anything in the International Arena, let alone ridden in there, so she’s a bit shell shocked!”
Tomorrow’s feature class is the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ of Great Britain, presented by Longines, where teams of four riders complete two rounds of jumping. Ireland are drawn first to go, followed by Switzerland, the Netherlands, the USA, Italy, Germany, Belgium and Great Britain. The class will be streamed live on FEI TV.