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

Horse & Hound - - News Insider - By PENNY RICHARD­SON

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.