Tag Archives: international riders

Photo from hopedeamer1-18

How to win the Puissance on a horse you’ve never ridden before

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Horse Scout reporting at the TheraPlateUK Liverpool International Horse Show 

 

The Puissance is the ultimate test of horsemanship. It measures bravery, scope and the ability to hold your nerve. It is an event that never fails to fill seats and excite a crowd and cause a stir. This year’s Puissance at Liverpool International unfolded like a fairy tale and the end to a great year for British rider Matt Sampson, who finished in joint first after clearing 7ft 3” (2m20). Not only was he a relative rookie against the big red wall, but he achieved the feat with a horse he was riding for the very first time- Laura Renwick’s Top Dollar VI.

 

Eleven combinations competed which ran for the maximum five rounds. It was whittled down to just two in the final round with Matt sharing the honours with Irish youngster, Michael Pender. Michael was riding the scopey mare Hearton du Bois,  with whom he won the Dublin Horse Show Puissance this year.

 

Matt’s catch ride, Top Dollar VI may have more experience than his rider, having jumped a number of Puissance classes with Laura. In fact, the pair won the class at Olympia in 2017 but Laura decided to hand the reins over to Matt less than an hour before the class. That being said, to take on any new horse before a class and win it, is one helluva feat. Let alone to put faith in one another to jump the unjumpable.

 

Matt reveals how he prepared himself mentally for the challenge:

 

“I didn’t know him at all but maybe that’s not always such a bad thing. I just tried to ride forward to it and give him a little bit of room because he’s such a big horse. You’ve just got to keep them confident but then he’s a very good horse. It got easier each time as I just figured him out and trusted him a bit more and it just went on from there.”

 

So what does it feel like jumping that wall? “It feels amazing” he smiles. “I’ve actually only done one Puissance before at a show in Holland. So I didn’t have a lot of experience in the class.”

 

Preparation outside is minimal he explains. “It’s very hard to prepare in the warm up to jump a wall. Because we don’t have a wall in there, we just have a vertical and an oxer. I did a couple of verticals and an oxer but only about 1m40 to 1m 50 high. In comparison to what we are jumping in the arena, it’s not a lot but I think it’s better to keep the horses confident so if they go in the ring thinking that they can jump it, then it’s got to give you a better chance.

 

About an hour before the class, Laura (Renwick) rang me and asked me what I was doing and I said “nothing”. So she said did I want to ride her horse in the Puissance.

 

When asked if he had many catch rides in his career. He responded humbly with “not really”. Until legendary jumper Geoff Billington interjected with “he’s the King of Catch rides this one” referring to Matt’s win in the Hickstead Speed Derby on a catch ride Top Flight True Carlo in Hickstead’s Derby meeting.  In May, Matt had the biggest win of his career when claiming the prestigious Hamburg Derby, aboard Gloria van Zuuthoeve.

 

Whilst it is apparent, Matt would love to ride the gallant chestnut, Top Dollar again, he is philosophical about it. “I don’t know if it will happen again- probably not. But if I don’t ride him again, it was a good way to end on a high. He jumped amazing and it filled me with confidence.”

Written by Ellie Kelly

Photo from hopedeamer1-17

WEG FOCUS: JONELLE PRICE- Riding the Crest of the Wave after the birth of her son.

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New Zealand’s Jonelle Price has been knocking on the door of a big win for nearly a decade. This year with her evergreen mare Classic Moet, she won perhaps the most famous equestrian events of them all, The Mitsubishi Badminton Horse Trials. In doing so, Jonelle became the first female winner in ten years and all this, just eight months after the birth of her son Otis. Then just a month later, she proved it wasn’t a fluke by winning Luhmuhlen on Faerie Dianimo. Jonelle has been a regular fixture on the New Zealand event squad and helped the team to win the bronze medal in London 2012.

 

This week the 37-year-old will be hoping to add another medal at the FEI World Equestrian Games, where she must be in serious contention for an individual as well as a team in Tryon. And why not? It has been a great year for the Price family and the stars seem aligned. Earlier this month her husband and fellow WEG team-member, Tim Price won the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, making them the first husband and wife to win back-to-back titles since Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips did it in 1971.

 

Jonelle, who quit her law degree to follow her eventing dreams, is one of the most determined riders on the circuit and has success at all levels of the sport. According to the statisticians from Equi-ratings, Price is still “the fastest cross-country rider in the world” even after her break to have baby Otis.

 

For Jonelle, her pregnancy came as something of a surprise and was received with mixed emotions; “I hated being off. I was riding the crest of a wave, having just been third at Burghley (2016). Things were all going in the right direction and it felt like a spanner in the works. But reflecting on it, I realise now that in the scheme of your lifetime, it is not much really is it?”

 

Her sporting ambitions kept the 37-year-old looking forwards and helped her make a speedy comeback to the sport.

 

“It was a real focus throughout my pregnancy to stay fit. I rode pretty much the whole way through and I was at the gym and worked with a personal trainer the whole time so I didn’t lose a huge amount of fitness. Even though obviously your body changes a bit and that takes time to come back, I don’t think I lost the fitness of core stability.”

 

On her return, it was business as normal and giving birth had not dampened her competitive spirit or changed her feelings for contesting a high-risk and physically and emotionally demanding sport. “For me, that wasn’t a problem. You have more time when you are pregnant to think about these things and you wonder how it will affect you and hear stories of other women who decide to give up, in any sport. I think it’s a very individual thing and I was pleasantly surprised that I felt really normal. Nothing had changed and it really was just back to work.”

 

Whilst her family still live in New Zealand, the Prices are reliant on good child-care and Otis joins them at most events. “It hasn’t been as life-changing in the way I thought it would. I was worried about that but it has just enhanced our lives. He’s an incredible little boy and he doesn’t care whether we win or lose. It’s really refreshing, he still loves you the same and looks forward to seeing us at the end of the day, as we do him. For us, it really has been business as normal and we are lucky that in this job, he can come on the road with us. He is probably one of the most well-traveled one-year-olds you will find and he doesn’t know any different”.

 

Written by Ellie Kelly

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Derby Victory for Funnell

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We are so excited that Horse Scout Advocate William Funnell, has just claimed his fourth victory in the Al Shira’aa Derby at Hickstead for so many reasons. Not just because he has been a supporter of Horse Scout from the beginning but also because he was riding a British homebred horse. This was the 57th Derby which began in 1961, now sponsored by Al Shira’aa. This year it attracted a strong and very international field of riders but the Brits dominated.

Once again flying the flag for the Billy Stud, William was riding the 10-year-old Billy Buckingham by Billy Congo out of a Clover Hill mare. The impressive 18.2hh gelding was one of two to go clear in the first round of the imposing track. This resulted in a jump-off- almost unheard of in this competition,  against Holly Smith and the equally massive Irish bred Quality Old Joker by OBOS Quality. Holly has produced the 11 year old since a youngster and perhaps surprisingly, the 18 hand chestnut is as good at speed classes as he is at Derby’s and Puissances.

The first to go in the jump-off, Billy Buckingham was clearing the fences with inches to spare. Until the pair fell foul of the water jump and a foot in the splash, meant they finished with four faults in a time of 89.62sec. This gave Holly a bit of breathing space, but she was caught out first by the black gate and then by the water as well, meaning she they had to settle for runner-up.

William is the fifth rider to have four wins in the Hickstead Derby, having previously clocked up a catalogue of victories in 2006, 2008 and 2009 with his legendary long-term partner, Cortaflex Mondriaan. He joins other greats like Harvey Smith, John and Michael Whitaker, and Ireland’s Eddie Macken, who have all had four wins, in what is still perceived as one of the hardest showjumping events to clock a clear round in, let alone win.

William rates Billy Buckingham as the perfect Derby campaigner and believes there will be more wins to come . “As long as I’m fit and the horse is fit you’d like to think you could go on and win it a fifth time. It’s nice to be in the record books with those guys, and to do it this year on a home-bred is special,” he said.

Billy Buckingham was previously ridden by Lucy Townley, the daughter of Hickstead Director Edward Bunn. William took over the ride in 2017 and was the star performer of the British team in the Nations Cup in Denmark last June. Just a few weeks later, the pair finished sixth on their Derby debut having hesitated at the top of the Bank and getting a time fault as well.

“We’ve done a bit of practice to make sure he’d come down the Bank. Last year I wondered if I’d wasted a clear round because they don’t come round here very often, so it’s nice to get another one and win it on a home-bred by Billy Congo.”

William was full of praise for the show at Hickstead, which has always been happy hunting ground for him. “I’d like to congratulate the Bunns on the work they’ve done in the arena, this is the best grass ring in the world with the best footing.”

It was a great event for both British riders but also the girls this year, with Holly in second and Harriet Nuttall in third on another great Irish bred horse,  A Touch Imperious by Touchdown, This super consistent pair who have been together since “Henry” was just five years old, left all the poles up. Alas they were another pair to be caught out by the 15ft Open Water. Harriet shared third place with Shane Breen on the Canturo sired stallion, Can Ya Makan, who had one rail.

James Whitaker ended up in fifth place with one fence down and a time fault on Glenavadra Brilliant, the horse James’ elder brother William Whitaker rode to victory in 2016.