Ben Clark strikes it lucky to be star of the star, three battle it out to a close finish and one rider has a win a day
Keysoe, South View, plus international highlights
Keysoe Blue Chip qualifiers, Beds
MANY riders may have left for Spain and Portugal, but competitors still arrived here in decent numbers. The schedule included three qualifiers for the Blue Chip Championships that all produced exciting finales, and the star of the show was 15-year-old Ben Clark.
The teenager from Southampton opened his account with 1.20m victory on Lanverdel, with whom he went on to head Sunday’s DDS Demolition winter 1.25m qualifier. Ben then took the top three places in the Friday’s 1.40m open, repeated this feat in the 1.35m class that closed the show and threw in a Foxhunter victory for good measure.
Ben, who is home-schooled and will take his GCSEs this year, gained many of his rides after his trainer Julian Mincher broke his neck in a riding accident. Although Julian is now recovered, Ben is still competing some of the horses and gaining great results.
“But I’ve never done anything like this before,” he said.
Ben’s 1.40m and 1.35m wins came on Valentino VII, the former ride of Sam Hutton and Abigail Newbery, who joined his string two years ago. This “seen and done it all” Dutch-bred 16-year-old won junior European team and individual medals with Abigail in 2012 and Ben is also hoping for a junior team place. In a twist of fate, Valentino is back where he started, as he was brought out as a four-year-old by Julian.
Ben already has European experience because he and Lanverdel competed as individuals at the 2016 childrenon-horses championships at Millstreet. The British-bred 13-year-old came to Ben via event rider Charlotte East.
“He’s taken me into bigger classes and he’s lovely. He’s incredibly kind and tries his heart out every time,” said Ben.
Lanverdel certainly tried in the winter 1.25m qualifier jumpoff. The pressure was off after the eight who made it through were guaranteed their Blue Chip tickets, but Lanverdel and Ben killed the class with a fabulous round from first draw.
Jay Halim threw everything into his round, but ended up second on the exciting seven-yearold Aragon Z, while 17-year-old Katie Waldock-Smith was close behind with Creevagh Tompico.
Jay and Ben had swapped places in the previous day’s Karma Performance jump-off. Jay pulled off every turn from first draw on Aragon Z and then watched the other 11 try and fail to beat him. How good their round was became evident after Ben took the same route on Elda Balou and Hicarlos, but had to settle for second and third spots.
Aragon Z was among the top six-year-olds last season, finishing third in Royal Windsor’s Walwyn Novice Championship and narrowly missing the Horse of the Year Show newcomers and Foxhunter finals.
“We’re at only our second show after a break, so I decided to drop him down a level,” said
Jay. “Classes like this are ideal for teaching horses to go against the clock. Young horses need to learn to win on the way up or they get to 1.40m and don’t know how to go fast.”
Aragon Z will step up a level this season.
“I’ve been very lucky to keep him. His owner Duncan Arthurs became interested in showjumping after being in racing
Lanverdel partners 15-year-old Ben Clark to two victories — at 1.20m and in the DDS Demolition winter qualifier — among a plethora of wins and placings