Horse & Hound
Roll of honour
Winners at the British Showjumping Indoor Championships Finals
British Showjumping Indoor Championship Finals, Aintree International Equestrian Centre, Merseyside
STEPPING up to host any show at the eleventh hour would be impressive. But taking on a number of the sport’s most iconic classes, synonymous with Horse of the Year Show, while balancing pandemic restrictions and managing to create a championship both in terms of atmosphere and quality of competition was nothing short of a triumph for Aintree.
On Saturday night, Tim Davies and Nielson added their names to the history books with an electric victory in one of the most prestigious finals, the Equitop GLME Foxhunter championship.
The roll of honour of past winners is peppered with horses who have gone on to achieve stardom, and Tim hopes the Belgian warmblood will follow in the gilded hoofprints of those names.
This year’s running of the class had a different atmosphere with the lack of spectators and the change of venue, but it felt no less special as the quality of the field and the standard of the competition remained unaltered.
Tim and Nielson, owned by Lisa Volk, were drawn fifth to go in the jump-off with one clear ahead of them and three further challengers behind. The scopey chestnut powered off the floor, while also managing to be quick through the air and lost no speed in his turns, storming to the top of the leaderboard and setting a winning time of 40.69sec.
“I didn’t think I would be fast enough and I was surprised at how quick he was,” said Tim, adding his main focus was not to push the horse out of his natural rhythm.
“If you do that, you can end up losing time. I was trying to keep him jumping out of the rhythm all the time, just keeping things as smooth as possible. When you have a horse like him, it makes it so much easier because he wants to jump clear. Horses like him deserve to win a big final like this.”
On-form Emma Crawford and Gina Gold, winners of Wednesday’s British Horse Feeds Speedi-Beet grade C final, were the first of the eight combinations to jump off, with the responsive mare showing what makes her so good – throwing all her effort into every question asked. The pair stopped the clock in a time of 42.6sec, setting a tough target for the others to aim for.
Lorraine Locke and Artisan I, the sole British-bred horse in the jump-off, produced the next clear in a time of 43.8sec, meaning Emma momentarily tightened her grip on the top spot.
Tim and Nielson’s masterful
round pushed them into the lead, with the final three riders then further shuffling the lower placings. Danielle Ryder and Sam VD Tojopehoeve Z claimed the runner-up spot, while last-to-go Faye Adams and Gladiator VI kept their cool despite a broken martingale to finish third.
“HE’S BETTER THE MORE YOU DARE HIM”
CHANTELLE DUGGAN, who was told a year ago she may never ride again, and Linton De La Chapelle added talent seekers to their haul of 2020 titles.
Linton De La Chapelle proved his own trademark style of kicking out with a hind-leg through his round does not slow him down, with the seven-year-old gelding as quick through the air as he is on the ground to scoop the win.
“He is better the more you dare him – if you try to jump a clear, he would probably have a fence. If you try to win, he pulls it out of the bag,” said Chantelle, who broke her neck in two places in a freak accident getting on a young horse in August 2019.
“He was quite defiant as a young horse and he came on so much as a six-year-old. We stuck with him because we knew how good he could be. I have never ridden something where you come down to a 1.45m square oxer and it doesn’t even feel like they have left the floor. We knew there was a grand prix horse in there.”
Tim’s Foxhunter win was the second title of the week for the family, with his nephew Isaac Hall winning the winter grades B&C final on Conrad VI, sourced from the Netherlands by Tim.
Two combinations came forward to the jump-off, with first-to-go Madison Jamison and At First D’Authuit clipping the back rail of the B element of the double, putting pressure on Isaac and Conrad to go clear.
The big-striding 13-year-old (Vittorio x Concorde) jumped a clean, flowing round – although there was a moment it appeared Isaac could have played it too safe as the clock ticked over the time allowed, adding three faults.
“It was a lot more nerveracking than a tough, fast jumpoff because there was so much pressure to win and to go clear,” said Isaac, 23, who brought the horse back from life-threatening injury in the field as a youngster and has produced him through the grades from British novice.
“I would say he has made me
“We stuck with him because we knew how good he could be” CHANTELLE DUGGAN ON LINTON DE LA CHAPELLE
as a rider. Every time we stepped up it was a new lesson for both of us, and because of that we have developed a lot more trust together than I would on a horse who was already made.”
SCOTTISH riders dominated on the opening day, with a hat-trick across the grade C, Equissage Pulse British novice and NAF Five Star bronze league championships.
Fife-based Emma Crawford and nine-year-old Gina Gold, owned by Louise and Graham Davies, were the penultimate combination to go in the 14-strong grade C jump-off.
“She’s as careful as a cat and has the heart of a lion,” said Emma, 20, adding that was the “best round” Gina has jumped.
“After you’d jumped fence two, the horse almost wanted to turn right as we had done that in the first round and it is a natural instinct to want to turn right when they see a wall on their left-hand side. That meant you had to jump the first fence considering the second. My mare makes up a lot of room, so I jumped the right-hand side of both the fences to give myself more room and distance so she could set herself up nicely.”
The win not only marked a hattrick for Scottish riders, but also for mares, who went on to take all five titles on the opening day.
The British novice title went to Aberdeenshire rider Charley Hamilton, 17, with Innishannon Red Squirrel.
“I’ve produced her myself, so it’s even more rewarding,” said Charley, adding the mare has made great progress from cantering over a pole a year ago.
Lorry driver Alistair White, from Falkirk, made the 5am starts to ride before work worth it by taking the summer bronze league championship with his own Hanleen O Tess (Fluffy).
“Her rideability is great and she tries to win all the time – she knows her job and really wants to do her best,” said Alistair.
Gemma Hallett and the pintsized Billy Jive made the long
“The more you push, the harder she tries” GEMMA HALLETT ON BILLY JIVE
journey up north from the other end of the British Isles worth the trip, taking the NAF Five Star silver league crown.
This was the 22nd win for the combination since Gemma took on the ride for owner Sue Jarman in July 2019. The zippy 15.2hh’s speed through the air and agility in her turns gave her the edge over her rivals in the close-fought class, with just 0.35sec separating the top four combinations.
“I don’t tend to watch anyone before I go in as it makes me more nervous,” said Gemma, adding the 11-year-old daughter of Billy Mexico lives with Sue and she hops on to compete at shows.
“I make a plan and stick to it, otherwise I end up over-riding and we have a pole.
“[That plan] was to keep it as neat as I could – because she’s little, I wanted to keep those turns neat and tight as that’s where she’s so quick.
“She is the most genuine horse. The more you push, the harder she tries. I love a mare. Maybe that’s the key – I let her go in her funny little way and be herself; she quite likes that.”