Roulette finds win­ning for­mula

Greenacres Eques­trian dom­i­nates the grand prix, with top young riders of­fer­ing a nod to the fu­ture

Horse & Hound - - Showjumping - By PENNY RICHARD­SON

“I DON’T think there’s ever been a more con­sis­tent eight-year-old,” said Pen­nie Cor­nish of Roulette H af­ter Ben Walker, one of her Greenacres Eques­trian sta­ble jock­eys, rode Emma Ziff ’s Bri­tish­bred geld­ing to win the clos­ing grand prix.

With so many big shows to choose from re­cently, en­try num­bers were much lower than the or­gan­is­ers hoped, but with prize-money of al­most £14,000 and spe­cial bonuses for the fi­nal day’s cham­pi­ons, ev­ery­one had a great time at this mid­week show.

Mark McGowan hit ex­actly the right note with his grand prix course and though only three com­bi­na­tions reached the jump-off, an­other 11 had just one mis­take.

“Horses and riders have only just started com­ing back in­doors, so I tried to give them as much room as pos­si­ble,” he ex­plained.

The three riders fight­ing for the £1,000 first prize were part of the fu­ture of the sport in Bri­tain. At just 26, Ben was the most se­nior, as his ri­vals were 23-yearold Al­fie Brad­stock and Chloe Smith, 21.

Chloe opened with two mis­takes on her 15-year-old Candy Boy, but the win­ning round came next. Ben rode Roulette with the ut­most con­fi­dence and the son of Moschino was like a ball of elas­tic as he gave the fences more and more room.

Al­fie knew ex­actly what he had to do and he and Bene­dic­tus looked on course un­til they brushed off a pole at the fi­nal fence in a time just 0.13 of a sec­ond slower than Ben’s.

This was yet an­other bit­ter­sweet moment for Ben, who has been in fan­tas­tic form all year and missed a Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) in­ter­na­tional place through a points er­ror.

Roulette, who will now jump at HOYS with an­other Greenacres rider, Phillip Miller, was watched here by his de­voted owner,

Emma Ziff.

Ben col­lected an ex­tra prize of a mini mo­tor­bike. This meant that two mo­tor­bikes went back to Harpen­den on the Greenacres lorry, as Phillip Miller had done the same in the pre­vi­ous class, the speed horse cham­pi­onship, on an­other of Emma Ziff ’s horses, the seven-year-old forth­com­ing HOYS tal­ent seek­ers fi­nal­ist War­riors Creme.

Emma, an equine pho­tog­ra­pher who has sev­eral top horses at Pen­nie Cor­nish’s yard, was a for­mer owner with Chloe As­ton.

“Ben was a groom there and looked af­ter my horses, so I’ve known him for many years. When he went to work for Pen­nie, I moved there and have never looked back,” ex­plained Emma. “I com­pete my­self and the lovely thing about Greenacres is that we’re a real team. We work to­gether so well.”

Dani Sta­ple­ton, who also works at Greenacres, added to their lau­rels with a B&C win on her seven-year-old Fire Van Virona, whom she has pro­duced from a novice.

Dani, 18, is en­joy­ing her job: “I’m rid­ing ev­ery­thing from fouryear-olds to ex­pe­ri­enced horses and I’m learn­ing such a lot.”

‘I CAN’T THANK THIS HORSE ENOUGH’

THOUGH he missed the grand prix jump-off with a fence down on both rides, Miles O’Don­nell was the star of the ma­jor classes on the first two days. On Tues­day, Miles and his 11-year-old Bor­sato were the fastest of five dou­ble clears in the 1.40m jump-off class and they headed the line again in next day’s speed com­pe­ti­tion.

Miles, 19, who lives near Bas­ingstoke, re­turned home re­cently af­ter train­ing with Peter Charles. His fam­ily has par­towned Bor­sato for al­most seven years and Miles took the ride in 2015. The Dutch-bred Con­tendro geld­ing was pre­vi­ously part­nered by Me­gan James and Tim Davies and was a HOYS new­com­ers and tal­ent seek­ers fi­nal­ist.

“I can’t thank this horse enough. He’s taken me from 1.10m classes to area tri­als, young rider teams and a place at Olympia,” said Miles, who also won Wed­nes­day’s 1.25m class on Um­berto De Fauquez.

“I’m al­most more pleased with that,” he said. “Um­berto was the first horse I com­peted when I was 14 and while I was at Peter’s he stayed at home and did noth­ing. He’s come back to form so well.”

Tues­day’s 1.25m win­ners were Eleri Guy and her 17-year-old Tors La Loi. Mar­low-based Eleri has owned the Bel­gian-bred for­mer ride of Lance White­house for three years, but has com­bined horses with stud­ies at Durham Univer­sity. This was her first show since Hick­stead’s Derby meet­ing.

“It’s been a tricky bal­anc­ing act, but we’ve man­aged,” she ex­plained. “I keep the horses at livery with Kim Barzi­lay and I’m start­ing my first job in sports spon­sor­ship in Lon­don on Mon­day, so that will make it eas­ier.”

Sara Arkell made her fourhour trip back to Wales a lit­tle more bear­able by win­ning the 1.25m cham­pi­onship on John Jones’ Cordil­lio Z. This 15-yearold Care­tano Z stal­lion loves noth­ing more than a good gal­lop.

“As far as he’s con­cerned, his job in life is to go as quick as he can,” said Sara.

Nick Ben­ter­man may have found a new star in his 1.30m win­ner Chac­carino. This Chacco Blue seven-year-old went on to jump in the grand prix for only four faults and Nick is ex­cited about his fu­ture.

“He’s owned by a Nor­we­gian in­vestor and came from the PSI auc­tion. He’s one for me to keep and pro­duce and he’ll now do the small tour classes at the Oslo World Cup show,” he said.

Michaela Hunt­ing­ton en­joyed a great show, with three wins and sev­eral near misses. She scored a new­com­ers-Fox­hunter dou­ble on the six-year-old For Fash­ion mare Gina Tro­jka S and then rode Ale­gro Z to beat Ash­leigh SilkJones and Valentina B in a “bat­tle of the Es­sex girls on ch­est­nut mares” in the 1.30m class.

This was mis­sion ac­com­plished for Gina Tro­jka S who, de­spite los­ing a shoe en route, com­pleted her dou­ble clears for next year’s Fox­hunter sec­ond rounds.

“She’s such a happy horse and she al­ways skips round the course. I do love my mares,” said Michaela.

There was an­other dou­ble in Thurs­day’s new­com­ers and Fox­hunter cham­pi­onships. This time, Emma-Jo Slater took the hon­ours on Kim Barzi­lay’s seven-year-old Fielina II, a Zacharov mare who stepped up to Fox­hunter level here. Their ex­ploits also earned Kim £300 in vouch­ers to put to­wards fu­ture en­tries at Bury Farm.

Fielina was bought from Emma-Jo’s twin brother Glynn last year and was pre­vi­ously owned by a para showjumper, who found her a bit cheeky.

“She’s only about 15.3hh and she loves Emma, so I might keep her. Her blood­lines are so good that she’ll make a very use­ful brood­mare too,” said Kim.

Miles O’Don­nell and the Con­tendro son Bor­sato claim a dou­ble win

Ben Walker pi­lots Emma Ziff’s Bri­tish-bred Roulette H to grand prix vic­tory

Michaela Hunt­ing­don and Gina Tro­jka S pick up a pair of vic­to­ries

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