Showjump­ing Ain­tree, Keysoe and more

Both re­turn­ing riders and first-time vis­i­tors to Ain­tree EC make their marks at this pop­u­lar show

Horse & Hound - - News Insider - By MAR­GARET SHAW

LUCINDA STE­WART is al­ways a force to be reck­oned with at Ain­tree, and the Scot­tish rider claimed two ti­tles with her very much on-form Can­cun II, who headed the Hazelden 1.15m and Dod­son & Hor­rell (D&H) na­tional 1.10m cham­pi­onships.

Hav­ing jumped the first and last ini­tial clears with her two rides Glow DK and Can­cun, Lucinda held a strong hand in the 10-strong jump-off in the am­a­teur 1.10m cham­pi­onship and she set her re­main­ing ri­vals a real up­hill task when Glow DK opened with a sharp clear in 37.91sec.

Af­ter Laura Whit­ting­ton took the lead with Hayestown Di­a­mond Lady, Lucinda re­turned with last-drawn Can­cun, who jumped, turned and gal­loped to win in 36.11sec.

“Glow is a big-jump­ing horse who tends to waste a lit­tle time in the air and although Can­cun is younger, he’s more ex­pe­ri­enced and nat­u­rally quick and I was able to turn more tightly.

“Af­ter fin­ish­ing sec­ond in this class for the past two years, I was de­ter­mined to win this time,” said Lucinda, who was also third with Glow.

Af­ter win­ning the Scot­tish Branch 1.20m cham­pi­onship the pre­vi­ous week at SNEC, Can­cun came to Ain­tree on good form and the Caretino nine-year-old suc­cess­fully de­fended his 2017 ti­tle in the Hazelden 1.15m Chal­lenge fi­nal.

Again, Lucinda brought her two rides through to the 12-strong jump-off and plot­ted her course well with the Obourg 12-year-old Glow DK, who opened on four faults in a good time.

“I’ve had Glow for six years from just-bro­ken and he’s taken time to grow and come on.

“When he takes a no­tion, he can be a hand­ful, but he’s scopey and care­ful,” said Lucinda, who re­turned with a vengeance rid­ing penul­ti­mate-drawn Can­cun.

“I thought Glow’s time was good enough to start with and I wouldn’t have to do too much more with Can­cun, but I did man­age one ex­tra turn,” con­cluded Lucinda, who works full time in the fam­ily con­struc­tion busi­ness in Ayr.

An­other rider to leave Ain­tree with two ti­tles to her credit was Holly Gair, who claimed vic­tory in the De Niro Boots 1m chal­lenge fi­nal and the clos­ing D&H na­tional 95cm cham­pi­onship rid­ing Usita Champ and Bowes Milky Way re­spec­tively.

The 1m chal­lenge de­vel­oped into an in­trigu­ing cli­max as seven of the first 11 com­bi­na­tions com­ing through to the fi­nal round low­ered the first oxer.

Dou­ble clears among the 20 fi­nal­ists were con­se­quently slow in com­ing un­til Holly and Usita Champ (Rosa) pro­duced the first in 36.31sec.

Although sev­eral com­bi­na­tions mounted se­ri­ous chal­lenges, the quick­est be­ing Lucy Gilse­nan and Qui Qui in 41.47sec, Holly held on to gain her first win at these cham­pi­onships.

Holly is three years into her part­ner­ship with Rosa, who com­peted here last year.

“You need a good dose of ac­cu­racy to gain her con­fi­dence and she wasn’t quite ready last year, but we’ve built her up slowly to qual­ify again this sea­son.

“This was a tech­ni­cal course with some very square ox­ers, tight turns and long runs.

“Rosa has a big stride and she can gal­lop and turn. I think a ma­jor spin-back three from home clinched it for us,” said Holly.

Rosa again led the way in the 95cm am­a­teur cham­pi­onship. Holly never took a pull and pro­duced a real rac­ing fin­ish on the long run to the last oxer.

Sev­eral pairs tried but failed to top­ple the leader in the 20-strong jump-off, and it was only Holly's sec­ond ride, Bowes Milky Way, who sur­passed Rosa’s time.

Holly rode the ag­ile grey mare in her pony days and took her up into the se­nior ranks when Holly passed the age of 16.

“She might have the odd pole, but she never says no.

“At her age of 21 we just keep her to lo­cal shows, but af­ter fin­ish­ing sec­ond in the 95cm fi­nal and third in the 85cm cham­pi­onship last year, she was due a win this time.

“It was a tough course with plenty of switch­backs and dis­tances to make, but I never took a pull and she an­swered ev­ery call,” said Holly.

‘IT WAS HER TURN TO­DAY’

AF­TER a sec­ond-place podium fin­ish to Carol Gee in the mi­nor vet­eran riders fi­nal (see box, above right), Rachael Evi­son left noth­ing to chance in the D&H 1.05m am­a­teur cham­pi­onship.

Rid­ing her French-bred grey mare Scylla D’Ouilly (Ruby), Rachael pro­duced the first dou­ble clear from third draw in the 20-strong jump-off and held on to the lead to earn her first na­tional ti­tle.

‘Af­ter fin­ish­ing sec­ond for the past two years I was de­ter­mined

to win’

LUCINDA STE­WART

The York­shire rider has en­joyed a suc­cess­ful six-yearpart­ner­ship with Ruby, en­joy­ing two re­cent wins at

Bishop Bur­ton Col­lege.

“We tend to keep to Ruby’s com­fort zone of 1.10m classes, but she is a re­ally easy horse to ride.

“There were lots of quick riders to fol­low us, so we had to get all

the early turns and we had a good shot to ev­ery fence from all the in­side routes.

“Ruby can turn well and she’s very quick. It was her turn to­day,” added Rachael, who fin­ished ahead of Madieson Blakesley and Daniek.

It proved to be a good week for Rachael, as Ebolen­sky, a horse she owns jointly with rider Matt

Samp­son, clinched a grand prix win in CSI2* Oliva, Va­len­cia.

As win­ning rounds go, Katie Ben­bow and Ruby St Loise (Lulu) pro­duced one of the fastest to se­cure vic­tory in the D&H 85cm na­tional cham­pi­onship.

First-drawn of 19 hope­fuls in the fi­nal round, Katie took ev­ery short cut at speed and slipped the reins on the flat to make the best

use of Lulu’s nat­u­ral speed.

The pair were com­pet­ing at their fifth na­tional am­a­teur fi­nals and they were 1m cham­pi­ons two years ago.

Mark McGowan’s jump-off course posed plenty of ques­tions with lots of twists, turns and gal­lops along the way.

“The main pri­or­ity was to jump clear again, but Lulu loves to go for­ward and she was just as fast in the first round.

“The big­gest test was the run to the sec­ond-last ver­ti­cal and spin­back to the fi­nal fence, but she was spot on,” said Katie, a busi­ness stud­ies stu­dent at York Univer­sity.

Hav­ing won the D&H na­tional ma­jor vet­eran riders ti­tle five years ago, Nina Emery and Galaxy III again showed their ri­vals a clean pair of heels from the out­set to re­claim the ti­tle in bril­liant style in 29.72sec.

With four very ca­pa­ble pairs fol­low­ing her, Nina risked all with two very sharp turns at the be­gin­ning and end of the track

“Galaxy isn’t very fast and tends to be one-paced on the long runs, but she is ver­sa­tile and care­ful.

“Be­ing drawn first, we had to try every­thing to make up time some­where, and as she will have a go at turn­ing tight, I thought it was worth tak­ing chances,” said Nina.

No-one mir­rored the win­ner’s route and their near­est ri­vals were the newly crowned mi­nor vet­eran rider cham­pi­ons Carol Gee and Fern­hill Splash.

Although Anita Leadbetter had been placed in the am­a­teur fi­nals here in the past, she made her first en­try into the vet­eran ranks a win­ning one, when

Tax­ing Times (Hec­tor) posted the fastest clear in the mini vet­eran cham­pi­onship.

It proved a hard-fought fi­nale, with nine pro­duc­ing dou­ble clears, but Hec­tor’s abil­ity to land run­ning saw him come home ahead.

“We all took the same route, but Hec­tor is re­ally ver­sa­tile as he can gal­lop and turn and he’s quickly into his stride; I only have to think about turn­ing and he’s gone,” said Anita, who has owned 14-year-old Hec­tor for nine years.

“He was very quirky at first and still has his mo­ments, but he knows his job,” added Anita.

A POIGNANT TRIB­UTE

COURSE-BUILD­ING here for the past five years, Mark McGowan was pleased to note the stan­dard was the best yet.

“Riders are im­prov­ing and in­ter­pret­ing dis­tances and course plans bet­ter,” said Mark.

With en­tries at an all­time high, these pop­u­lar cham­pi­onships re­main well es­tab­lished at Ain­tree In­ter­na­tional Eques­trian Cen­tre.

With a mas­ter­class by for­mer ladies’ cham­pion and Bri­tish team mem­ber Julie An­drews, and a full so­cial pro­gramme in­clud­ing quiz, spins on the Ain­tree race­course gal­lops, guided tours of the Grand Na­tional course and a gala din­ner dance, riders and of­fi­cials were kept oc­cu­pied over the six days.

On a more som­bre note, the news of the death of Tim Stock­dale hit hard.

Dur­ing a course walk, a poignant trib­ute was paid to Tim, fol­lowed by a minute’s si­lence and spon­ta­neous ap­plause.

Dur­ing the gala evening, an auc­tion raised £1,600 for Can­cer Re­search.

‘I only have to think about turn­ing and

he’s gone’ ANITA LEADBETTER ON HER

‘QUIRKY’ TAX­ING TIMES

Lucinda Ste­wart steers the ‘nat­u­rally quick’ Can­cun II to top two class leader­boards

‘We had to get all the early turns and we had a good shot to ev­ery fence’: Rachael Evi­son andScylla D’Ouilly fol­low up sec­ond in the mi­nor vet­eran riders fi­nal with tri­umph in the 1.05m cham­pi­onship

Holly Gair and 21-year-old Bowes Milky Way are 95cm cham­pi­ons

Five years af­ter first do­ing so, Nina Emery and the ver­sa­tile Galaxy III re­claim the ma­jor vet­eran rider ti­tle

‘She loves to go for­wards’ — Katie Ben­bow and Ruby St Loise speed into the lead from the start to claim the 85cm cham­pi­onship

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