Sampson’s Foxhunter focus hits the target
Ebolensky delivers the goods for Matt Sampson, Nicole Pavitt adds to her HOYS newcomers tally and Jumper makes his mark in the pony classes
THE Equitop Myoplast Foxhunter final has been Matt Sampson’s focus with Ebolensky for the past 12 months, and he duly signed, sealed and delivered his bid for this most prestigious of national titles with 2.43 seconds to spare.
“Nothing else really mattered,” said Matt, who took over the ride on the Clinton eight-year-old at the beginning of November. “Since her owners bought her as a foal it’s what they had in mind for her.”
Kelvin Bywater’s first-round track had demonstrated its jumpability when first-to-go Rachel Connor and Fantastic produced a clear, but the coursebuilders had an anxious wait as the next 16 combinations faulted.
Fortunately, there was some class bunched at the end of the 23-strong field and a further three clears came from the last six to jump.
Rachel once again delivered a strong opener in the second phase, setting the second fastest time on the seven-year-old mare but dropping the Abbey Road fence when a bold angle didn’t pay.
The first double clear — 2.4 seconds slower — was then laid down by Jamie Wingrove and Heartstring, a former five-yearold national champion who has remained consistent through
‘I’ve never sat on a more intelligent horse; she just adapts’
MATT SAMPSON ON FOXHUNTER WINNER EBOLENSKY
the grades. They were followed by Louise Saywell and Hashtag, who clocked a four-fault effort a smidgen off Jamie’s lead time.
Last in, Matt rode a determined round from the start with the big-engined grey, opening up thrillingly over the final line to stop the clock with an easy advantage.
“She’s one of the best horses I’ve ever had. You can never be sure of the result but I was confident in the horse — she’s never had a bad round,” he said.
“It was a jump-off that suited her, although everything suits her. I’ve never sat on a more intelligent horse in my life — she just seems to adapt.”
A previous winner of the senior newcomers and young rider championships at HOYS — as well as the newcomers, Foxhunter and 138cm on ponies — Matt has continued to tick off a bucket list of prized national classes this year, also claiming the speed derby at Hickstead on Topflight True Carlo.
“We’ve had a good year, we’ve got some good horses and owners and everything seems to be coming together,” Matt said. “There’s always another prestigious class to try and aim to win but there’s not many like the Foxhunter that has so much history behind it.”
FORMER EVENTER KEEPS STEPPING UP
THERE had been a tense moment the previous evening when Matt and Ebolensky — again in last draw — had been the only combination standing between Chloe Winchester, Matt’s girlfriend, and victory
in the Talent Seekers final.
The pathfinder in the jumpoff, Chloe had led the six-strong field from the start with Jo West’s nippy former eventer Sportsfield Our Clare, and retained her advantage when Matt tipped the third fence.
“The plan with Matt’s horse was always the Foxhunter, so he was going to save her for that,” said Chloe. “Before I went in he told me to go out there and show them what I was made of.”
Pony-like but with a massive stride, the seven-year-old Sportsfield Our Clare, by the Hanoverian stallion Newmarket Venture, has exceeded all expectations this year.
“We started out at 1.20m with her and we said, ‘If she aims up to 1.30m that would be amazing’ but she has just stepped up and up,” added Chloe. “She tries so hard and always gives that little bit more. She has found scope at every level.”
The only other double clear in the Talent Seekers came from Louise Saywell, who took the £1,000 bonus for best-placed seven-year-old with the Old Lodge’s Mac Uwe, who was bought at auction in Germany.
PAVITT STRIKES AGAIN
THE Connolly’s Red Mills newcomers championship ended in the third victory for Nicole Pavitt since 2012, making her the most prolific winner of this title for the past 30 years.
In an uncommon conclusion to such a competitive class,
just two combinations had progressed to the second round, with Nicole producing the sole double clear from first draw on the clean-jumping seven-year-old HC Cornet, owned by Tamara Czartoryska of HC Sport Horses.
The only other clean sheet came from Adam Botham and Jerome Du Luot, who had some luck on their side in the first phase, rattling several poles but leaving them all in their cups.
But their fortune didn’t hold for the jump-off, in which the eight-year-old Cicero gelding produced a strong round 1.32 seconds up on the clock, only to lower the final fence.
“The two times I’ve won it previously I was first to go in the jump-off as well, so it must be my lucky spot,” said Nicole, who was making a pit stop at HOYS for this one class before setting off for Belgium early the next morning.
“This [newcomers final] was probably the most stressful of the ones I’ve won as there were just the two of us in it. He’s a green horse, so there was only so much I could ask him to do.”
Nicole picked up the ride on the Colestus gelding at the beginning of the year while on tour in Portugal — where his owner is based — and of her two qualified rides he was not the one she expected to win.
“He has the talent but he’s done nothing,” she said. “When I took him over he’d only jumped a couple of 1.10m classes.
“It’s hard to qualify for these finals but I like to do them because I know if I’m going to have a good horse from the way they cope with the occasion. They have to have a good head — he’ll make a grand prix horse for sure. “
KATHRYN ELLISON may have considered herself the underdog in the Speedi-Beet grade C final, but the Dorset rider still piloted her boss Jabeena Maslin’s homebred mare Cherokee Bay to an unequivocal victory.
She jumped the quickest of two double clears to take “the biggest win of her career” over Joe Clayton (Eye Catcher); while Will Fletcher collected third with a fast four-fault round on the former three-star eventer Persimmon.
The nine-year-old Cherokee Bay — by the stallion Otis, who was lost as a six-year-old — was on her first outing indoors for two years.
“Nothing has ever fazed her,” said Kathryn. “I felt that no one was expecting anything from me, so I should make the most of it and go for it.”
Seventeen-year-old Abbi Jackson made a bold debut in the Horseware bronze league final, forging a hefty 3.81-second winning margin from first draw on 12-year-old Christopher Robbin IV.
“He goes fast all the time, we can’t change him, we’ve tried,” said Bedfordshire-based
‘He goes fast all the time, we can’t change him — we’ve tried. He’s such a show-off that he loved it’
BRONZE LEAGUE CHAMPION ABBI JACKSON (CHRISTOPHER ROBBIN IV)
Abbi, who “collected” the bay “accidentally” four years ago, as other riders found it difficult to get on with him.
“Jumping 1.10m is a real step up for him, especially somewhere like this, as he usually jumps 1m tracks. He’s such a showoff though that he loved the atmosphere.”
Horseware silver league winner Fools Business is becoming a legend at this level, taking two wins, a second and a third place in the last four editions of this championship.
The 16-year-old, 15.2hh home-bred by It’s The Business out of a JA pony mare won in
2015 with Katie Shaw, this time producing the fastest of four double clears with her sister Emma Sargeant.
“He’s not the biggest but at this level he’s unbeatable. He’d never make a 1.40m or 1.50m horse, but he can win all day over these tracks,” said Emma.
‘She’s never had a bad round’: Matt Sampson fulfils Ebolensky’s lifelong target in winning the Foxhunter championship
Sole double clear: Nicole Pavitt (HC Cornet), newcomers champion
Sportsfield Our Clare (Chloe Winchester) claims the Talent Seekers
A legend at his level: Fools Business, 16, tops the silver league final under Emma Sargeant — his second win in this championship
Abbi Jackson and Christopher Robbin IV, bronze league champions
Career high: Kathryn Ellison and Cherokee Bay land the grade C final