The Longines Royal International Horse Show, 25th - 29st July 2018
By Stephanie DeWitt plus Pippa DeWitt's report on the Nations Cup
On Friday, riders from six nations jumped-off for the honour of adding their name to the Roll of Honour on the prestigious King George V Gold Trophy. First to go, Dutchman Kevin Jochems on the 11 year-old bay Dutch Warmblood gelding Captain Cooper set the standard with a fast clear round in 50.35 seconds which none of the other contestants was able to emulate.
Brought up on a farm and having ridden ponies since he was six years old, Kevin, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on the Sunday of the meeting, said, "I had a very, very good feeling about my horse. The long lines in the jump-off suited him, so I just went as fast as possible."
Robert Smith, three-time winner of the trophy, brought a new horse, Ilton, a 10 year-old bay, specifically for the King George class. After the pair won the Bunn Leisure Trophy on Thursday, Robert said he was a bit concerned that the horse had never jumped open ditches or water, traditional constituents of the course for the top class. On the day, Ilton proved what an honest horse he was by clearing these obstacles with ease.
Earlier in the day Melton Mowbray-based Joe Clayton took the Bunn Leisure International Stakes riding Carolus K DHI. In the Bunn Leisure British Speed Classic, Ireland's Shane Breen on Can Ya Makan beat William Whitaker and Lammy Beach by a fraction of a second.
After a thrilling four-horse jump-off on Saturday, James Whitaker and Glenavadra Brilliant claimed the BHS Queen Elizabeth II Cup with a clear round in 50.60 seconds beating Pippa Funnell on Billy Congo, the only other clear round, into second place. Newly turned twenty-one, James was also awarded the Cindy Mead Memorial Trophy for the best-placed rider under 25.
In a thrilling climax to a gripping competition, Aussie Paul Tapner romped round the MS Amlin Eventers Challenge course on Bonza King of Rouges to take the title for the second year running. NagMag sponsored rider, Indi Limpus, third on the list on Billy Brogue, rode the first clear round and finished in a creditable 12th place.
"I enjoyed that!" said a jubilant Paul. "I've had twelve months to prepare for this, to see if I could go faster than last year by taking strides out!"
Welshman Gareth Roberts drove Dark Horse Fred and Barney to victory in the popular Osborne Refrigerators Double Harness Scurry Championship ahead of Alison Osborne who took second and third place with Chip'n'Dale and Woody and Buzz respectively.
At the culmination of the week's showing classes it was the Riding Horse Supreme Champion, Diamonds Are Forever, who took the BHS Supreme Horse title for the second year running with Oliver Hood taking over the ride on Annabel Jenks' 9 year-old gelding from his father Allister. Reserve Champion was Robert Walker on Jill Day's Lightweight Hunter, View Point.
Tying on points, two ponies went head-to-head in the de la Hey Family Supreme Pony Championship. Melanie Stanford's grey Highland stallion, Benbreac of Croila, winner of the BSPS Heritage Mountain & Moorland Championship and with Matthew Cooper on board, executed an excellent gallop to take the title ahead of the Leeman Family BSPS Supreme Show Pony Champion, 8 year-old Moluccas Bengal Beauty ridden by Isabella Whittle.
"He's like a Thoroughbred in a Highland's body!" commented Gemma Stanford, daughter of the Supreme Champion's owner and BHS Director of Horse Welfare.