Roulette finds winning formula
Greenacres Equestrian dominates the grand prix, with top young riders offering a nod to the future
“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,
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