British showjumper Chloe Winchester had a good day at Hickstead on Saturday, winning the Templant Events Queen Elizabeth II Cup on Avoca Valkyrie, and also picking up trophies for the highest-placed lady rider and the best under-25.
A total of 26 riders came forward for the prestigious national final, which is open to the highest-ranked riders on the Area/International points league. Winchester, 21, topped the list in 2014 and was a worthy winner of the £12,000 Queen’s Cup at the Longines Royal International Horse Show.
Six riders made it through to the jump-off, with first to go Tina Fletcher and Hello Sailor setting the standard with a clear round in 53.32sec. Kerry Brennan (Wellington M) made a valiant attempt to better the time, but finished just one hundredth of a second in arrears. Regular Hickstead winners Trevor Breen (Old Town KC) and Timothy Davies (Valentijn O) both lowered a pole each to keep them out of contention. But Winchester set an unreachable new target of 49.57sec, a time so quick that even Phillip Miller and Caritiar Z were some three seconds slower.
“It’s a dream come true. The plan was to just keep going forward because I knew Phillip was coming after me,” said Winchester, who is part of the British squad at next week’s FEI European Young Rider Championships in Austria. “I obviously did more kicking and flapping than Phillip!” she added.
Winchester got the mare from an eventing yard and has produced her up through the levels to 1.50m classes. “We jumped here at Hickstead at the All England Jumping Championships last year, but nothing like this,” she said, adding that it was the biggest win of her career.
Miller had to settle for runner-up spot with his 2013 Hickstead Derby winner, Caritiar Z. “I didn’t see Chloe’s round, but a few people had said to me how fast she was and I was never going to make up three seconds,” he said.
The Italian riders had a day to celebrate after their disappointment on Friday when finishing at the bottom of the leaderboard in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup. Piergiorgio Bucci headed a huge class of 48 starters in the Bunn Leisure Salver, winning on the 11-year-old stallion Casallo Z.
Having started the day with a win, the Italian contingent had further reason to celebrate when Lorenzo De Luca and Homer De Reve won the British Speed Classic. Britain’s Guy Williams – who is renowned for his prowess against the clock – was some 1.35sec slower than the Italian rider, which shows just how blisteringly quick he was.
In the day’s other classes, Charlotte Adams-Lane and Chaz & Dave won the Osborne Refrigerators Double Harness Scurry Championship, while Jordan Cook and Fleetwater Xecutive were crowned the Alexanders Horseboxes Supreme Hack champions.
The Longines Royal International Horse Show concludes on Sunday with the €200,000 Longines King George V Gold Cup. The week’s showing champions will also gather in the International Arena to compete for the ultimate accolades – the British Horse Society Supreme Horse and the Underwood Supreme Pony championships.