Holly Smith (née Gillott) was on winning form once again at Hickstead, winning a prestigious class at the Longines Royal International Horse Show (27-31 July).
Riding Quality Old Joker, an eight-year-old Irish Sport Horse, Holly claimed the Winter Grades B & C Championship in the International Arena.
Nine combinations made it through to the jump-off, with Holly going third from last. A well-judged round by the Leicestershire-based rider saw her knock nearly 3sec off first-drawn Adrian Whiteway’s time.
“He’s 17.3hh and big with it, so he’s not the most conventional, but he’s honest,” said Holly about her winning ride. “The jump-off really suited him and I knew it would. He can turn on a sixpence – he’s light on his feet for a big horse.”
It’s been a very successful few weeks for Holly, who had several wins at last month’s Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting and had already won the 1.35m Open earlier today with Carolus K. Holly has also had reason to celebrate this month as she got married on 1 July. “It was all a bit hectic!” said Holly. “We did have four nights in the Costa del Sol, but only after we’d been to Ireland buying horses.”
Holly’s husband, Graham, bought Quality Old Joker as a four year old. “He came back with him and said ‘I’ve bought you a jumper’ and I wasn’t impressed at first – he’s so different to anything else I’ve got. He’s so sensitive as he’s got loads of blood, so you have to sit very quietly.”
The gelding is part owned by James Mossman, the master of the Quorn Hunt, who fieldmastered on him for a year. “He’s a really versatile horse – he jumped a puissance at Bolesworth and he can do speed trials… You’d think he wouldn’t be quick, but actually, he is,” added Holly.
She was also delighted to see her former international Grand Prix horse Dougie Douglas, who was sold to America last year. “Dougie’s actually here this week – I think he recognised me! It was really nice to see him again and Katie Dinan’s doing really well with him.”
Berkshire’s Laura Mantel won the SEIB Winter Novice Championship in the International Arena, riding New Priory Stud’s six-year-old mare Funnycan. Only four of the 24 starters jumped clear rounds and Mantel provided the fastest of those, finishing 2.15sec quicker than her closest rival.
In the showing classes, 15-year-old Josephine Ready took the Leeman Family Supreme Show Hunter Pony Championship with Wolferlow Esperanto. The eight-year-old chestnut had previously competed at medium-level dressage. “He’s only been out to around six or eight shows this year and we’re still teaching him his new job away from dressage. We don’t think he’s even stayed away from home before – we just wanted him to go well today, but he’s so anxious to please,” she said.
Kavanaghs Imperial Assal was crowned champion in the Pure Bred Ridden Arabian Championship, ridden by Laura Rowe. ‘Freddy’ is Laura’s first Arab and she bought him as a two-year-old. “I only bought him to sell on, but I can’t part with him. He was tricky at the start, but now I’ve got his confidence it’s like being sat in a rocking chair.”
Pippa Duncan and Gruguar Skylark took the Ponies (UK) Dalkeith Young Riders M&M Championship. ‘Sky’ was produced by Terri Guyett, who explains this is only Pippa’s second season in showing. “She’s only just out of first ridden this season. She’s never even watched anything in the International Arena, let alone ridden in there, so she’s a bit shell shocked!”
The international showjumping gets underway tomorrow, with the Bunn Leisure Vase and the Bunn Leisure Trophy in the morning. The afternoon’s highlight is the Amlin Plus Eventers’ Challenge, which features many of the world’s top event riders. The class will be televised live on Hickstead.tv, as well as the FEI YouTube channel.
Tickets to the show are available at the gate or can be bought online at www.hickstead.co.uk.
For full results, click here.