A Marathon Nine Days for British Showjumping National Championships

The British Showjumping Championships are one of the highlight shows for British Showjumping each year. It is the show where the National Champion is crowned and has traditionally had a selection of championship classes for all ages and abilities. For the past few years, the show has always been staged at the National Stoneleigh Showground, but this year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the organisers for a few years, Grand Stand Media, decided that along with The Horse of The Year show, staged at the NEC in Birmingham every October, both shows would have to be cancelled. This was obviously a huge disappointment for hundreds of riders, mostly amateur, who had worked hard and qualified to attend the show pre lock down. However, all was not lost as Nina Barbour, the organiser of both the Bolesworth International Show, usually held in June each year, and the New Year Horse Show in Liverpool, stepped in to host the British Showjumping Championships at Bolesworth. So with Covid protocols in place and sadly behind closed doors, the show must go on!!

This was to be a marathon event, run over nine days and would incorporate no less than 40 classes which were either finals or championship classes, including the Grand Prix at the end of the show to find and crown the National Showjumping Champion. Over half of the classes were for school teams and young individuals, in fact 23 of them, and these took up the event for five of scheduled days. The title sponsor for the whole event and sponsor of most of the classes was NAF Five Star Superflex.

Megan Li wins 138 Championship with Rumbolds Starlight

The reader will be delighted to learn that we do not intend to list all the champions in this article as it would become incredibly dull, but we have picked out a few of the main classes upon which to comment.

Most of the early days were concerned with final qualification for the Championship. British Showjumping, unlike the other governing bodies for equestrianism in the UK make a lot out of encouraging young riders and getting them out there to learn and experience competition. The first championship is a relatively new innovation and is ‘Just For Schools’ where teams of four ride the course and the winning team is the one with the least penalties. Like with the Nations Cup, the worst score of each team is disregarded. There were three Championship classes to cater for all age groups and abilities starting over fences of 70cms going up to  1 metre 10cms. Both the 1 metre and 1 metre 10 were won by Berkhamstead School. They have really encouraged their pupils and given them real support over recent years and been very successful to boot! The winners of the 70 cms were Clifton College another school known for its recent equine prowess.

Tatiane Maureee wins 148 Championship on Horseabout Zibu

There were also two ‘Children on Horseback’ championships. These were also viewed by the British Team selectors for future international events. The first of the hideously competitive classes was the 1m 30 Championship, which Megan Li made her own by winning both the Championship and came second. She won on Rumbolds Starlight, a 10 year old mare from 23 starters. In the 1m 48 class, there were 31 starters and Tatiane Mauree came top riding her 10 year old Irish sport pony – Horseabout Zibu. This was a close run thing with Tabitha Kyle just beaten into second spot – she also took fourth with Claudia Moore third.

The senior championships started with The National Winter 1m35 Championship, carried over from the abandoned show at Addington in April and was won by Faye Adams riding her own Demograf, a KWPN 12 year old gelding. Robert Murphy was second and Yazmin Davis third out of the 17 starters.

There were several other classes carried over from the Spring Championships at Addington, but they are too numerous to mention here. The first of the Young Horse Classes are always well supported and very competitive. It is after all the one opportunity to sell your horse for some decent money if it does well in these classes as the classes are always a window watched carefully by those looking to buy their next Grand Prix ride??The Six Year Old Championship was contested by 67competitors.

Lucy Townley wins Six Year Old Championship for Billy Stud on Billy Masai

The winner was Lucy Townley (ne Bunn) riding for William and Pippa Funnell’s Billy Stud – Billy Masai. Billy Stud also took second with Billy Bakewell ridden by Lottie Tutt. Ten of the 67 starters were Billy Stud bred horses. In the Five Year old equivalent, the championship was taken by a Dutch imported horse ridden by Jonathan EgmoreKartina Van Het Maaskantje by Cidane. This was a strong class with the top 25 horses all getting double clears. In the Four Year Championship, the winner was Upton’s Quickness by Centino out of a Quick Star mare ridden by Jessica Botham. There were 49 runners. This was another very strong class with 21 starters going through to the second round having jumped clear in the first. There were 46 participants in the Seven Year Old Championships with again The Billy Stud bred horses out in numbers. In fact there were six of them with the best being the William Funnell ridden Billy Budd and Billy Marmite who came third and fourth respectively. The winner was Righteous, a gelding by Luidam, and ridden by Angel Tough. She needed to be to see off all that competition!!!The Reserve Champion was taken by Tony Pearson riding Wyoming 19. Only 11 of the runners went clear in the first round with six going double clear.

Louise Saywell – British Showjumping National Champion 2020

The Grand Prix was the class of the nine days and was the one to determine the British Showjumping National Champion for 2020. Jumped over a top height of 1m 40. Sixty four took their turn to take the championship and at the end of the first round there were seventeen still in it. It was rather an odd competition to watch as all the runners were obviously well jumped and rehearsed, but being the first Grand Prix for some time, most looked ring/competition rusty. Not surprising really considering the recent lack of shows? Many of the horses were ballooning fences as if they were novices, which they were not, and quite a few had careless fences down which normally one felt sure they would have left standing. As a generalisation, the horses ridden or prepared by Holly Smith went well as did those from the Billy Stud. In fact of the 17 second rounder’s, Holly Smith was riding three. Lucy Townley rode Billy Kodak beautifully in round one, so could she take the championship? In the event,  neither those two won, they were responsible for two of the eight clear second rounds but were down the order on time. The winner was Louise Saywell riding Mike Alvin’s 12 year old bay gelding – PLA Halo Diamond. She crowned her championship with a final score of no penalties in 47.87 seconds. In second was Keith Shore riding Djoel in a time of 48.51 seconds with long time Canadian rider and leader Kara Chad coming third. Had Kara won, it wold have been the first time a foreigner would have been British Champion Showjumper!

The final class of note was the postponed National Winter Grade C Championship in which there were 21 participants. The championship was won by Chantelle Duggan riding a 7 year old gelding, Linton de La Chapelle; James Shore came second. There were ten first round clears of which seven were double clears.

All images Courtesy of !st Class Images

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