Siblings take centre stage at Pony of the Year Show

Monday 01 April 2024

Siblings take centre stage at Pony of the Year Show

Sibling pairings shone in the limelight at the 26th Pony of the Year Show, Arena UK, with Sophia and Izabella Rogers and Thomas and Katie Bradburne all claiming a Grand Prix title each along with generous prizes of goodies and, of course, Easter Eggs.

Sophia only took over the reins on her sister Izabella’s European Championship ponies in January but has excelled in building a partnership with Neil 55 and Queen Star, racing up the levels to take two podium places in the prestigious Pony of the Year Show 148cm JA Grand Prix.

Course-designer Mark McGowan set a testing track for the 34 JA contenders, only five finding the key to the 12-fence track – an on-form Sophia claiming two of them.  She rolled one pole on Queen Star in the opening round but made no such mistake with the scopey Neil 55, trusting him to gallop at the final vertical and win with almost two seconds in hand.

“I only started in January.  I rode him a few times before Christmas but was petrified to jump more than 70cm.  It was a big step up to this and my Mum [Nicola] never thought I’d do it,” said Sophia, on the Tangelo Van De Zuuthoeve 12-year-old Neil bred by Charlotte Platt out of her 1.60m Koriander mare Paulien II.  “He’s very horse-shy and sharp and an idiot at home who has to have a companion friend – but he can jump!”

Sophia finished third on Queen Star – “She’s grumpy in the stable but phenomenal out jumping,” – sandwiching Emily Gulliver’s Fleur De Nuit 8 into second.

“She’s quite sharp when she’s fresh, but once she settled, she’s easy,” said Emily, 13, who considered the course “Flowing and adjustable but with big, square oxers.”

In a double triumph for the Rogers family, Izabella, 16, came up trumps in the Under 18 Grand Prix with Cantate 47.

Seven of the 36 riders forward accessed the jump-off, Izabella maximising on her final draw to land the title by 0.38 seconds. 

“She’s a once in a lifetime mare, so scopey who is quiet at home but lights up in the ring; I feel so confident because I know I can trust her.  The course had a lot of technical lines and you had to ride well,” said Izabella, on the 10-year-old ‘Crunchie’.  “I’ve had her three years but concentrated on my last final pony year [in 2023] so I’m only starting to focus on her now.”

Nations Cup teams are an aim.

“I’d love to compete in a Nations Cup and the European Championships are a dream, but I don’t know if I’ll achieve that in my first year.  I want to be competitive but not over-jump my horses and pick and choose my shows carefully,” added Izabella.

Fergal Holohan was pipped at the post, settling for second on Karima II with Alice Crowley filling third spot aboard Strides Controe.

Bradburne brother and sister Thomas and Katie were also a winning team.  Thomas left the best until last to take the Under 25 B and C Grand Prix in fine style on Irouette BLH.  Twenty-three competitors came forward over the 12-fence 1.25m course with seven coming home on a clean sheet to access the jump-off.  The best round came in the final draw, Thomas risking a breath-takingly tight turn into the penultimate oxer and maintaining a rhythmic but fast pace to the final vertical to wrest victory by a handsome 3.51 seconds.  Olivia Davison had to settle for second on Kiss By A Rose with Tallulah McKenzie Smith in third riding Cubix Van De Berghoeve Z.

“She turned herself inside out over that oxer.  I saw a stride and she picked it up and went for it, she helped me out there,” said Thomas, on the Vittorio x Animo 11-year-old mare he acquired 12 months ago at Newcomers level.  “She’s a lovely person but we’ve only just got going as she suffered from sinus problems and, although she had an operation, it didn’t cure it which can happen sometimes.  We then tried salt therapy treatment and it worked!”

Newcomers and Foxhunter Second Rounds are now the summer aim for Thomas, who won the 2021 Blue Chip Pony Newcomers Final at HOYS with Derryinver Rocky – “We’ve put a lot of work into Irouette and now she’s giving it back,” he added.  

Katie found the shortest route to sail ahead of her 21 jump-off rivals to take the Talent Spotters Grand Prix on Derryinver Rocky, an 11-year-old she inherited from Thomas 15 months ago.

Evie Evans finished second on Trevor H 0.28 seconds in arrears and Ella Kay claimed third with Magic Cornflakes.

The influence of her father Guy, a fearsome rival against the clock, was certainly evident as Maisie Williams lifted the Under 25 Grand Prix with a flying round on Dalton D’Hoyo.

Nine of the 25 competitors returned for the jump-off with Allana Clutterbuck touting two of the rides.  But Maisie proved unbeatable, wiping 1.32 seconds from Allana’s opener on Vikinbay with Phoebe Farman third riding Diara Sue.

“He’s had a break at home for eight weeks while I was competing in Spain.  I didn’t have the best show here, but he pulled it out of the bag on the final day,” said Maisie.  “He’s really easy, very fast and you just ride and trust him to jump the fences – he does all the hard work.  He’s so kind and wants to win as much as I do.”

Victorious in the British Showjumping Spring Championships Children on Horses Final the previous week, Rosie Smith made a winning return to Arena UK to land the POYS Children on Horses title.  Last week, she claimed the top two places with Azolette and Fruselli; this week TJ Hall’s handsome 14-year-old stallion Fruselli (Zambesi x Karandasj) stepped in to win the Grand Prix and the Leading Rider Award.

A challenging, technical track where an early oxer, vertical, vertical combination caught out several, reduced the 17 finalists to four for the jump-off.  Rosie rode confident, forward lines to successfully answer the questions and win by 0.62 seconds.

“It was a tough course and Rosie is still green at this level but she’s learning quickly.  She’s had lots of experience cross-country and hunting,” said Rosie’s mother, Tokyo Olympian Holly.

“The combination was quite long-striding but I just kicked on and he likes to go like that, he’s very kind and always tries for you in the ring,” said Rosie.

Lottie Adams provided the only other double clear for second on Khaleesi OL.

Anya Dewey Clarke emerged triumphant from the battle with Lucia Caroline to take the 128cm Grand Prix, the two girls filling the top four places.  Seven came through to the jump-off with Lucia setting the target on Living The Dream, only to be immediately headed by Anya and Jim.  Lucia could only come within 1.05 seconds for the runner-up spot on second ride Desdemone De Marquais while Anya slotted last to go Kilcreene Snapdragon into third.

“Jim is the best at jumping, he loves it and loves the atmosphere.  We’ve got a very special bond, I’m very proud of him and we love each other,” said diminutive Anya, 9, who will contend the Royal International 128cm Final after winning the qualifier at Arena UK earlier in March.

Odds on favourite with two in the six-pony decider, Raphaela Dawson secured victory in the 138cm Grand Prix in the final draw with Noahs Lady. 

Portia Taylor-Wilson had set the standard in the opening draw aboard Whitethorn Smokey and held the lead all the way, until Raphaela hit top gear on the 17-year-old Noahs Lady to sweep into the top spot by 1.14 seconds.

“She’s cuddly in the stable but quite hard to ride as she’s so strong,” said Raphaela, 13, who chose to go round instead of taking the inside options on offer – “She’s very fast across the ground and sometimes goes disunited in her canter, so it’s best to go round.”

Evelina Roberts rode a class round that was not only fast but smooth to seize the 95cm Grand Prix with Krakboom D’Euro.  Eighteen of the 39 starters reached the jump-off with Evelina executing the tightest of turns to win by 1.69 seconds, claiming the win and the 95cm Leading Rider Award.

“There were a few options for tight turns and he’s so good and turning tight and moves off the leg straightaway, it was a nice jump-off course for him,” said Evelina, 15, who is in her last pony year and heeded the advice from trainers Kerry Grimster and Paul Kelly. “I had to keep my leg on the whole time and make sure he can see where he’s going next.”

Lexie Lane used her final draw to steer Colmanstown Rocket into second place and take the Leading Novice Award.

The nine-year-old Krakboom, who joined forces with Evelina two years ago, is only ridden in a snaffle.

“He’s not strong but I found him very difficult at first and it took a year to get used to him and get going, but as soon as we clicked, he’s been amazing,” said Evelina.  “He has such a big stride, I do have to contain him in doubles and down distances as he covers the ground so well.  He has the biggest personality, very cheeky in the stable but gets too excited in the presentation.”

Olivia Eglise, 10, commandeered the Prelim Grand Prix with Millcroft Gilamesh in a hotly contended decider.  Twenty-seven of the original 41 starters jumped clear over the 80cm course tackled the jump-off with Olivia slicing every tight turn to the minimum to win by 2.30 seconds. 

The 19-year-old Gilamesh – aka ‘Mole’ – has partnered Olivia for the last six years.

“He’s my second pony and can be pretty naughty sometimes; if he runs out, he always runs out to the right, but my trainer Mark Finn says not to let him drop at the fence and to look to the next turn,” said Olivia, who started riding when aged two. 

Her aims? – “To win the next class,” she said with conviction.

Felicity Ashcroft, 9, claimed second place and the Prelim Leading Rider Award with the consistent 16-year-old Trefriw Eros, who won the Mini 75cm Classic last year – “He’s done great things for me,” she said.      

Felicity and ‘Ernie’ went one better in the following 11-year-old and Under Grand Prix, flying to victory in the fiercely competitive 12-strong jump-off with half a second to spare over early leaders and second-placed Tiggi Lock and Ellies Miss Chief.

“I thought I’d come second again, it was nerve-wracking [watching the following riders] especially last-to-go Anya Dewey Clarke, she has such fast ponies, I was covering my eyes, but Anya knocked a pole down,” said Felicity.

Berkshire-based Felicity acquired Ernie 18 months ago from Raphaela Dawson.

“I loved him as soon as I rode him, but I had to get to know him and found it hard at the beginning.  Once I was over the first fence, I knew he was going to make it over each fence for me,” said Felicity.  “It was a team effort, I couldn’t do it without the help of Karan and ‘Raffy’ Dawson.”

A delighted Enoki Calvert-Ansari, 13, achieved a series of firsts in the Mini Grand Prix – her first and biggest win with Mullaghgloss Rebel along with her first sash and rug.

It was no mean feat as 29 of the 36 starters were pitted against each other in a fast and furious jump-off, Enoki emerging on top with 0.37 seconds to spare.

“He’s so honest and genuine and really helped me out on some dodgy turns,” said Enoki on the Irish-bred 15-year-old she started competing 18 months ago.  “He’s so special, a competition pony in the ring and a like a seaside donkey at home – an angel and a unicorn rolled into one.”

Ellin Gifford captured the 1.10m Grand Prix with the 20-year-old Robe Ruadh in a 28-pony jump-off, winning by an impressive 2.32 seconds in hand.  Saskia Ilott guided J Harper 001 into second with Camilla Lim-Goulder taking third on Rockmount Casper.

Eve Giannotta triumphed in the Introductory Championship Final with Oreo Patches, the coloured 13-year-old claiming more than four seconds to spare in the 19-strong jump-off.  Mollie O’Connor eased Tullow Star into second with Orla Burrell Thompson slipping Little Ceasar into third. 

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