Sandy McLean records his third win of the Winter Grand Prix series at Onley Grounds

Friday 05 January 2024

Sandy McLean records his third win of the Winter Grand Prix series at Onley Grounds

Sandy McLean continued with his 2023 Winter Classic Grand Prix form in the New Year with a victory double on Eagele Z at Onley Grounds Equestrian Centre in Rugby.

The pair headed a three-way decider in Wednesday’s 1.40m by 0.42 seconds and went on to claim the feature Winter Grand Prix in fine style.

“This was his first Grand Prix win and his first season jumping at this level, I’m very happy,” said Sandy, who was registering his third Grand Prix win in the 2023/2024 Winter Classic series.  He won at Northcote Stud, Lancashire, with top ride Gino F and headed the Grand Prix at Hartpury in Gloucestershire, on Zoey 12 just before Christmas.

Nineteen competitors faced a 12-fence 1.40m course designed by Mark McGowan with six supplying clear rounds to make their way into the jump-off.  Rose Moss set an early standard in second draw with Amina O L but two horses later, Sandy wiped more than four seconds from the time.  Adopting a seemingly unhurried pace on a light contact, he tightly angled the right wing of the vertical at two to execute a tight line to the next oxer and, after taking care to the tall penultimate vertical, set on a flyer to the final oxer to step out in front by 4.56 seconds.

“He’s not the fastest but is so athletic and careful. I went as fast as I could go without going crazy and it put enough pressure on – I did enough.  Occasionally, he lacks the rideability but he’s always improving and has the ability to go on and jump some big classes – he’s a cool horse,” added Sandy.

Rose had to settle for second place with the only other double clear and, while Adam Ellery beat the winning time by 2.55 seconds with an ultra-tight line to a midway oxer, F Kwanah IS lowered the first element of the following double of verticals to drop to third.

Ronnie Lee Jones commanded the top spot from the front in the Winter 1.35m on Ruth Dowie’s eye-catching Key West III. Four riders contended the jump-off with Ronnie setting the standard on the Tangelo Van De Zuuthoeve x Phin Phin nine-year-old stallion to win by 2.13 seconds.  Danielle Farnsworth provided the only other double clear to guide Kwis into second and, although Lisa Jones supplied the fastest time, four faults dropped Diana P to third.

Ryan Page jumped to the top of the Winter six-year-old on Zoe Snedker’s Curraghgraigue Q Hill to register his intent in the Final at the British Showjumping Spring Championships in March at Arena UK.  Twenty-eight competitors came forward over the 11-fence 1.10m track but quality was on display as 22 qualified for the jump-off with initial clears.  The competition was hot but Ryan – who has produced this Cobra x OBOS Quality mare for the past 18 months – made a decisive tight turn to the final oxer to edge ahead by 0.22 seconds.  Sandy McLean steered Quando Z into second with Anthony Condon in third aboard SFS Valente.

Megan James hit form to claim a victory double in the Winter Grade C and Blue Chip Dynamic B and C qualifiers.

Megan seized victory from the Grade C section in the Blue Chip Dynamic B and C with Alise May’s Good Luck Turkish.  The 40 competitors forward were whittled down to 11 by the 11-fence 1.25/1.30m course with mid-drawn Megan taking a flyer to the last to claim a convincing 3.78 second win.  The Good Luck VDL x Mohill Cavalier Clover nine-year-old hit immediate form with Megan at their first show in October with a consistent five 1* 1.30m wins in Oliva Nova, Spain, before Christmas.  Thomas Pritchard eased Cevan IV into second from the Grade B section and Anthony Condon on the grade C Oviedo S finished third.

Balouish came to the fore in the Winter Grade C for Megan.  Five of the original 16 competitors tackled the 10-fence 1.30m track but two withdrew at this point to leave a three-way decider.  Megan hit top gear on Kevin Sleap’s eight-year-old Balouish (Balou Mena Gii x Indoctro) to gallop into the top spot by more than three seconds.  Isabella Castle supplied the only other double clear for second on BE Wild with Adam Ellery and Marino III claiming third.

Adam claimed the Winter seven-year-old with Marino.  Thirteen of the original 27 starters jumped clear over the 11-fence 1.20m course to make their way into the jump-off, Adam claiming three of the rides.  He was on form, securing the top spot by 0.72 seconds on the Il Est Balou x Dynamo gelding he has produced for three years and taking third aboard Maylesco WS, sandwiching Sandy McLean on SES Jumeirah into second place. 

Derek Morton maxed on his final draw to take the Winter 1.25m qualifier with Zoe Snedker’s Darcon V & V.  Only four of the 19 starters posted initial clears to access the jump-off, Derek and the Ard VDL Douglas x Calvaro nine-year-old speeding into the top spot by 0.66 seconds.  Anthony Condon had led from the front until the final round, Ajaccienne dropping to second and Megan Broadway provided the only other double clear for third on Diatender TW.

Ellie Lambourne outpaced her 12 jump-off rivals to take victory in the 32-strong Blue Chip Karma Performance with the seven-year-old Springfield Diamanta (Diamant De Plaisir x Acorado) with 1.29 seconds to spare.  Thomas Bradburne slotted Irouette BLH into second and Chris O’Brien filled third on Maverick II.

NB: Results pending official grading.

Image: Sandy McLean & Eagele Z Credit: KB Photography

 
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