Horse & Hound
Brennan’s consistent campaigner triumphs
Kerry Brennan and 17-year-old Wellington M take the grand prix spoils after the jump-off proves tricky for some
KERRY BRENNAN and her veteran superstar
Wellington M took home the complete grand prix set with wins in both qualifiers and a stellar victory in the main event on the final night.
The pair, who had travelled daily between Kerry’s yard in Chesterfield and the venue in a car and trailer, topped the podium in Sunday’s grand prix following a masterful jump-off round.
Kerry and the 17-year-old “Welly”, owned by Liane Smith, were last to go and kept a forward rhythm and got inside the head of course-designer Mark McGowan to understand the questions he was asking and answer them flawlessly.
“Mark always builds clever courses,” said Kerry. “He doesn’t have to build too big, but he knows how to catch riders out.
“To start with I thought it was going to be a proper fast jumpoff because there were long runs between fences, but it actually caught people out and came down to good jumping rounds, which were the top few.”
The jump-off course made full use of the arena, with combinations asked to choose between eight and nine strides down to the second fence, a full 1.50m-wide oxer. The roll-back turn to the red postbox upright also caught out several pushing for the time, with Mark commenting that the competitors who were caught out were those “riding for the time, not the course” (see box, right). This matched with the results, as all the four-faulters’ times would have been good enough for a podium place had they jumped clear.
Keith Shore and Mystic Hurricane provided the first double clear of the class. They were swiftly followed by Gemma Ellison and her own British-bred sassy liver chestnut mare Cynthia Flint, who set the standard to
beat at 42.69sec.
Gemma retained her lead right up until the final two pairs came forward, meaning that she knew she was guaranteed at least a top-three finish.
Tim Davies, fresh from his win in Saturday’s Foxhunter, was the penultimate rider to go, this time on Barrett Watson’s bright chestnut Lionel Van De Markieslanden, the joint-winner of the 2019 talent seekers final.
The pair bounded ahead by almost four seconds, with the nine-year-old showing his extra athleticism by throwing in a buck mid-round, but their lead was short-lived with Kerry and her
“He can be a little bit bucky... the only buck he did all week was in the jump-off, but I’ll forgive him”
TIM DAVIES ON LIONEL VAN DE MARKIESLANDEN
“horse of a lifetime” last to go, powering into first place.
“I watched Tim from the chute and realised how quick I needed to be without pushing too far,” remarked Kerry.
DAVIES KEEPS THE RHYTHM
WITH Kerry firmly securing her top spot on the final podium, Tim claimed the runner-up position with Gemma in third.
Tim explained his tactic from his winning Foxhunter round of establishing a rhythm was also key in the grand prix.
“I think it is so important not to get carried away,” he said. “For me I like to stay in that rhythm; keep it smooth, keep it tight. Although he is nine we haven’t done loads this year, so I just thought he was fantastic tonight stepping up to that level.
“He can be a little bit bucky and a little bit naughty. The only buck he decided to do all week was in the jump-off today. But
I’ll forgive him that and I’m quite happy to come second to Kerry. She says she goes slowly, but I know how fast she goes!”
Gemma found a last-minute change of bit was a good move ahead of the class.
“Yesterday Cynthia didn’t quite feel on her game, so I changed the bit this morning and did some flatwork to make a decision if I should jump her today – we were almost going to go home,” Gemma said, adding that she swapped the 10-year-old mare from a Cheltenham gag to a Bombers Happy Tongue pelham.
“Going into the jump-off she just felt really confident. I know she has talent, it’s just getting to the point of getting it out of her. It’s quite a gamble going in a grand prix with a different bit, but she seemed really happy so I’m over the moon.
“When I learnt the jump-off course, I was a little concerned about the long runs to the verticals and that number one was a vertical off the wall. My mare is naturally much better at her oxers, but she’s not really competed at that height before in a jump-off class and she just seemed to grow in confidence from the first round.”
Fourth place went to Keith and Mystic Hurricane, with Mark Edwards (Montreuxs Tale) and Robert Murphy (High Quality) the fastest two combinations with a rail, finishing fifth and sixth respectively.
NO TROUBLE FOR HAZZARD
THE lightning-quick combination of Emma Crawford and Dukes Of Hazzard took both a 1.35m and a 1.30m open class, with margins of four and five seconds respectively.
Mark Edwards and Flying Tinker II took the other 1.30m open, while Jake Myers and Gerlina Van De Linthorst claimed the 1.25m class. The 1.10m and 1m open classes were won by Millicent Cornock (Boavista Delsendam) and Megan Cowan (Hellza Poppin II).