British star Jess Mendoza delivered a scintillating display as she sped to victory in the opening four-star showjumping class of this year’s Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show.
Matt Sampson appeared to have set an unbeatable pace in the NFU Mutual four-star speed class, clocking a time of 59.94 seconds on Belle Fleur, which was four seconds quicker than anyone else.
But Mendoza, who was travelling reserve for the Great Britain showjumping team at last year’s Rio Olympics, had other ideas as she clipped more than two seconds off Sampson’s time, posting 57.87 seconds.
“I luckily didn’t see the round before me, so I didn’t go crazy quick,” she said. “But my horse is naturally really quick.
“I didn’t want to go mental in there and scare him, I just wanted to go in the ring and do my turns, and it worked.
“He is 14, and he has done Nations Cups with (Dutch rider) Erik van der Vleuten, so he has seen all these fences before, which it makes it a bit easier.
“It is great to get the win at what is an amazing show. The ground is great, there are lots of classes and it is just great to be here.”
Mendoza’s triumph was followed by another Castle Arena four-star competition of the highest class, as competitors tackled the 1.45 metre two-phase, sponsored by Evans Halshaw Ford.
And it was Sussex-based Nicole Pavitt who emerged victorious on 11-year-old bay mare Areeb O.L as she continued highly consistent form.
Their time of 32.22 seconds thwarted the first American win of this year’s Bolesworth, with Michael Hughes and Jackson Vd Bisschop having to be content with second, while Matt Sampson and Ebolensky finished third.
“It was a very nice win. She is always good on the first few days at a show,” Pavitt said.
“The turn inside to fence 12 I knew I could do – not many people did – but she is a very flexible and agile horse.
“I didn’t accelerate her too much because tomorrow and Sunday are ranking classes, so I tried to leave a little bit in the tank.
“I have had the horse for five years, so we work well as a partnership and it is nice to have someone you know inside out.”