Horse & Hound
Kyle secures a hat-trick
The unstoppable 13-year-old claims an impressive three championship titles, while Cate Kerr lands one of her biggest wins to date with Dunbarover IV
TABITHA KYLE capped her glittering hat-trick of championship titles with classy victory in the Shaw Farm Stud pony showjumper of the year. Aintree proved a happy hunting ground for the 13-year-old, who won the juniors’ feature class aboard Su and Gordon Hall’s Gangnam Style II on the final day.
This was the second title of the day for the Leicestershire-based rider, who started the morning with victory in the Cats & Pipes 138cm championship aboard Lissduff Royal, and the third of the week after taking Friday’s pony Foxhunter final on Alison McDonald’s Teagan Arla Rose.
The six combinations who went clear in the first round of the pony showjumper of the year were all strong, but nobody could match Tabitha’s time against the clock of 35.07sec. The course had a true championship feel, with the final line of the Jockey Club oxer to the white upright seemingly daring riders to risk going bold and flat, or take a pull to add another short stride.
“In the jump-off, the second fence was the scariest fence for me because it was a really small upright and there was a ‘maybe’ turn after, but I actually got that really nicely,” said Tabitha.
“The line to the last was risky, and I took a little check. I think if I had taken a bigger check I would have messed up the rhythm and had it down.”
Last-to-go Alfie Miles and Quantum Light came close, with a cracking round that was almost neck-and-neck with Tabitha’s time most of the way. But the combination passed through the finishing beam fractionally slower than Tabitha to settle for the runner-up spot in 36.82sec.
Third went to Elsi Jacques and Trevoulter Ladies Man (37.52sec).
Tabitha took on the ride on Gangnam Style in 2019 to sell for previous owner Claire Lockhead, before the Halls bought the pony for her at the start of lockdown.
Tabitha explained a certain schooling exercise has really helped her “click” with the 11-yearold Irish gelding (“the friendliest pony on our yard”).
“We did lots of canter poles every night after school and that really built up our confidence and link between each other,” she said.
Tabitha and Bella Wild dominated the top end of the scoreboard in the 138cm final, taking the first five places. Both riders had three ponies in the jump-off, with the lead switching between the two.
Eight combinations of the 13 who progressed through to the second round jumped double clear, making time the deciding factor and resulting in a highoctane jump-off.
Tabitha set a new leading time on every one of her ponies, finally taking the crown with the 17-yearold dual Liverpool winner Lissduff Royal, owned by her mother Tanya.
“I really got him going at the start of the round – I made sure I had a proper canter on a circle before going to the first fence,” explained Tabitha.“With my other two [Mister Proper and Playboy Van De Zoetewei], I didn’t go so tight between the first two fences, but on Lissduff Royal I knew what to do and went tighter.”
Bella Wild set a strong challenge on her ponies, pushing ahead of Tabitha and Playboy Van De Zoetewei with Follow Jazzy Lady to temporarily hold the lead.
Lissduff Royal’s groundcovering stride and his timesaving turn between the first two fences meant Tabitha could just afford to take a check down the final tricky line – a double in a patch of morning sunlight on a dog-leg turn to an upright – and reclaim the lead.
But it was tight, with the top three of Lissduff Royal, Follow Jazzy Lady and Playboy Van De Zoetewei finishing on 29.03, 29.48 and 29.63sec respectively.
AN AMAZING ATMOSPHERE
NEW 128cm champion Cate Kerr celebrated “probably her biggest showjumping win” with a hug for her pony Dunbarover IV (Yogi).
Just two of the nine combinations in the jump-off left all the fences standing, with Cate and Yogi the quickest.
“I had just got off my other pony and then there was the last one to go. When they said I had won I was so happy!” said 11-yearold Cate.
Cate and Yogi were the third of nine combinations to go in the jump-off, the bouncy dun producing a neat, quick clear in 32.93sec.
“I liked the course, it was quite technical in places – from the third to fourth fence and then back round to the double there wasn’t much room,” explained Cate.
“We went to HOYS last year and there was an amazing
“We did lots of canter poles every
night to build our confidence”
TABITHA KYLE ON CLICKING WITH GANGNAM STYLE II
atmosphere; there is still an amazing atmosphere here.”
Sophia Rogers and the lovely grey Whinney Lass were last to go, jumping a faultless round to take second as the only other double clear of the championship in a time of 34.19sec.
A 148cm combination with an exciting future were the runaway winners of the Blue Chip pony newcomers final. Henry Squibb and the eight-year-old Clyde Barrows sailed across the jump-off course and into the lead in a time of 32.62sec. The 14-year-old rider kept Clyde travelling in an open rhythm and the bright bay showed his effortless scope, making the fences look easy.
Henry, who has a further two years left in pony classes, said his trainer John Renwick has been a
huge help and support.
“He is brilliant,” said Henry, adding John used to ride with his father. “He’s definitely good at helping with the jump-off – before I went into the ring he told me he won this class too when he was younger! There’s a great bond between us all.”
Henry added the win really felt like an achievement for both him and the pony, as he has brought Clyde up to that level himself.
Second place went to Jake Myers with Oakley III in 33.16sec, with Gabriel Ball and Rescue third in 33.36sec.
PAGE’S HARD WORK IS REWARDED
ANOTHER rider to produce her own champion was 15-year-old Charlotte Page, who claimed the pony discovery title with Qrevette Gii (Shrimpy).
Charlotte took on the Frenchbred mare as an unbroken five-year-old and the pair finished third in this class last year, upgrading that result to a win in the 2020 championship.
“It’s really rewarding producing your own pony as you know that’s your work, nobody else’s,” said Charlotte, adding
Shrimpy has a cheeky personality.
“I have a really close relationship with her and she’s really protective of me – if the dogs are barking at home she will chase them out of the field!”
Olivia Sponer and Conella II took a convincing five-second lead early on in the 12-strong jump-off with a lightning-quick round in a time of 29.11sec, which looked as if it was going to be a challenge to beat.
“Olivia is always really good competition – she always puts the pressure on. I wasn’t planning to go that quick, then Dad told me she’d gone fast, so I went for it,” said Charlotte.
After taking the runner-up spot in Friday’s discovery final, Olivia and Conella went one better on Saturday to lift the British novice trophy.
The combination were early to go in the 19-strong jump-off and recorded the first double clear, setting the time to beat at 29.2sec.
They were the first to take the inside line between the first and second fences, jumping the blue upright on the angle and wasting no time across the rest of the course, galloping to the last with Olivia and Conella’s ponytails both flying.
“She will never say no to a fence,” said Olivia, 14, who started riding the six-year-old mare over lockdown. “The height doesn’t matter to her. She’s got a big jump, but she can be quite hot sometimes.”
Paul Kelly gave the pair a hand in the warm-up, while owner and trainer Kerry Grimster helped Olivia with her jump-off plan.
“We saw where we needed to go and knew that everyone would be taking a similar route, so I knew I had to be quick and tight round the fences,” Olivia explained.
“I think my turnback to the penultimate upright was where we made the time – I made
“She will never say no to a fence; height doesn’t matter
OLIVIA SPONER ON CONELLA II
a mistake there and went too tight, so she was good to jump it for me.”
Rachel Proudley and Robe Park Bobby took on the challenge, taking a stride out to the last as they went for the win, stopping the clock just over two seconds behind in a time of 31.53sec.
Third place went to Samuel Hitchen and Bearwood Barney (32.56sec), with Olivia and her second ride, Indien Legacy, fourth in 32.68sec.