Moret fells her ri­vals

A school­girl se­cures her pas­sage to HOYS with the new­com­ers’ only tre­ble clear, de­spite high winds and tor­ren­tial rain, while a stal­lion wins the Fox­hunter


ANJA MORET’S class­mates at Great Bad­dow High School in Es­sex are prob­a­bly al­ready book­ing their tickets to Birm­ing­ham af­ter the 15-yearold jumped the sole tre­ble clear to take the top ticket to the

Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) new­com­ers fi­nal.

The 70 starters faced ap­palling weather. Tor­ren­tial rain made the go­ing test­ing and the high winds flat­tened fences at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals, but course-de­signer Dave Conway and the Keysoe team worked their socks off to get through the class.

The first-round track looked de­cep­tively easy, but fences fell all around the course, with an early dou­ble and the com­bi­na­tion prov­ing par­tic­u­larly prob­lem­atic. Twenty-nine good pairs reached round two, where the con­stant rain played even more of a part. De­spite plenty of har­row­ing, the water got into the sur­face, which be­came deep, and just seven chased the two HOYS tickets and five places at the na­tional cham­pi­onships against the clock.

It was a tense fi­nale that was all about jump­ing. Adam Botham had an early pole on the big ch­est­nut Jerome Du Luot and upped the pace to set a de­cent time. When Anja came in from penul­ti­mate draw on Fell Capone, Adam was still in the lead, with Bry­ony Ward in sec­ond spot with a slightly slower four faults on Fi­garo VII, a horse many would have loved to take home.

This may have been Anja’s first try at such a pres­ti­gious qual­i­fier and the big­gest course she and her seven-year-old mount had ever faced, but no one watch­ing would have re­alised. She rode beau­ti­fully, they met ev­ery fence on a per­fect stride and they re­ceived a big cheer from their ri­vals when they cleared the last to con­firm their HOYS place.

The fi­nal rider was Claire Robert­son on Cillfhi­achrach Trend. This lit­tle ch­est­nut tried his heart out, but rolled a late pole to fin­ish fifth, just be­hind Rosie Gunn and Jager­bomb.

“My face is hurt­ing from smil­ing so much,” said Anja, who could not re­ally be­lieve what she had achieved.

“Cappa” was started as a four-year-old by John Steels and pro­duced to Fox­hunter level by Hol­lie Lans­downe be­fore Anja took over at the end of last year. The Dutch-bred son of Le­van­tos I is kept with the Lans­downes and Anja has les­sons with John Steels, spend­ing long week­ends at his yard in Mel­ton Mow­bray.

“Anja is a ter­rific pupil to teach be­cause she wants to learn and tries so hard,” said John.

Anja added: “Cappa’s a bril­liant horse and he’s so kind and gen­tle. I’ve al­ways dreamed of jump­ing at HOYS and now my dream has come true.”

Adam Botham was equally de­lighted with his day’s work on Pip Lyons’ eight-year-old Jerome Du Luot.

“He has a bril­liant brain and mas­sive scope, but he’s fairly in­ex­pe­ri­enced,” Adam ex­plained. “Pip’s daugh­ter Emily had been rid­ing him, but he’s a big horse and she’s quite lit­tle, so Pip asked me to take him on and see what he could do.”


WATER of a dif­fer­ent type played its part in the next day’s Fox­hunter sec­ond round. The sun came out, but the water jump put paid to the hopes of 17 of the 52 starters in the open­ing round. How­ever, the cream rose to the top and any one of the 10 who reached round three would have been a wor­thy qual­i­fier.

Car­ron Nicol, Jay Halim and He­len Tred­well had two rides

‘My face is hurt­ing from smil­ing so much. I’ve al­ways dreamed of rid­ing at HOYS’


each and it was Jay who set the early stan­dard from third draw on Jaque Mate. They jumped a great round and it looked as though a short turn in­side to a big oxer had come off, but to ev­ery­one’s sur­prise a pole rolled back­wards out of the cups to leave Jay on a des­per­ately un­lucky four faults, al­beit in a quick time. Dale Burn­ham then looked odds-on for the first clear on Mark Wil­liams’ Dome Van Overis Z, but the seven-year-old hit the last fence to fin­ish even­tual fourth.

This was the big­gest test to date for Car­ron Nicol’s six-yearold Di­a­mond De Semilly stal­lion Ga­lerius and de­spite there be­ing two more ri­vals to come, Car­ron opted to go for a clear. It was the per­fect de­ci­sion. Ga­lerius gave ev­ery­thing a foot and fin­ished ears pricked with the sole tre­ble clear.

He­len Tred­well, al­ready ly­ing third with Gal­tur, was last to go on her new ride, New Pri­ory Stud’s Fun­ny­can. But the lit­tle mare low­ered a pole at the first part of the dou­ble and fin­ished fifth, to give He­len two chances to qual­ify in the masters class at the na­tional cham­pi­onships.

This was an in­cred­i­bly brave per­for­mance from Car­ron Nicol, who was in hos­pi­tal four days be­fore the show un­der­go­ing a neu­ro­sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure on her back.

“It’s ba­si­cally been den­erved in six dif­fer­ent places,” she ex­plained. “I’ve had trou­ble for a long time since break­ing my back and ev­ery­thing else they tried didn’t work. I was told not to lift or bend when I left hos­pi­tal — but they didn’t tell me not to ride!”

Like the pre­vi­ous day’s new­com­ers win­ner, Ga­lerius was started by John Steels and Car­ron bought him last year.

“I love him be­cause he’s so cheeky,” she said. “He’s prob­a­bly the most in­tel­li­gent horse I’ve ever owned, but I never ex­pected this. It was the big­gest first-round track I’ve seen in one of th­ese qual­i­fiers and I only brought him to­day to keep my other horse com­pany. He’d never even seen a water jump be­fore.”

Sec­ond-placed Jay Halim could not have been more pleased with the eight-year-old Jaque Mate, who has given the Ox­ford­shire-based rider his first ever HOYS Fox­hunter ride. The Bel­gian-bred gelding ar­rived at Jay’s yard a year ago to be sold.

“My groom fell in love with him and told me she would never speak to me again if he went, so I ended up buy­ing him in part­ner­ship with Jean Nunn,” said Jay. “He’s the eas­i­est, loveli­est horse in the world and has now be­come the yard pet.”

Anja Moret, 15, jumps three fault­less rounds on seven-year-old Fell Capone to win the new­com­ers

Car­ron Nicol’s Fox­hunter win­ner Ga­lerius is un­fazed by the water

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