Daisy Berkeley and Strike Smartly have topped the leaderboard for British Eventing’s 2015 Future Talent 2* League after leading the series for most of the season.
Aldon and Pau International Horse Trials were the final events of the point accumulating fixtures, yet there was no one close enough to the mark to knock Berkeley (née Dick) and Strike Smartly off the leaderboard.
Berkeley and Strike Smartly’s Owners, Fred and Penny Barker will receive a £5000 bursary at the Eventing Horse Owners Association awards dinner next week, where the Barkers will also be presented with an Owners’ bronze.
The consistent performance of the grey eight-year-old son of Ghareeb means that the combination led the rankings for most of the season and finish with 79 points.
Their 2* points were accrued in CIC2* classes at Somerley, Belton, Barbury, Bicton and Gatcombe International (2), plus third place in the CCI2* at Tattersalls in Ireland. The pair finished the season in the top 20 of a very competitive CCI2* at Osberton International in early October.
Berkeley, who was part of Team GB at the Beijing Olympics, said: “After Tattersalls we realised this horse was in with a chance of winning this new League, so I spoke with his owners who also decided it was a great thing to aim for this season.
“He has not been the fastest to mature, so this goal has meant he has had plenty of experience and now feels really good and established at 2* level and has gained a lot of confidence. I can’t wait to get him out at three-star level next year.
“If it hadn’t been for the League I might have been tempted to push him a little bit harder this season, which is a mistake you can make with really good eight-year-olds. You might think they are ready, but the step up in technicality, distance and dimensions can be too big a change sometimes, so aiming for this League has been a great benefit to him, as well as offering a substantial prize to myself and his owners.”
BE Chief Executive David Holmes said the calibre of horses heading up the League showed the strength in depth of talented horses coming up the ranks. “This is definitely a horse whose progress I will be keenly following – well done to Daisy also for producing such a consistent performer. Congratulations and thanks must also go to Fred and Penny for their support.”
To be eligible for this League, qualifying horses had to be nine years old or younger and ridden by a British rider; the horse must also never have competed at three or four-star level.
Points for the League are accrued at both CIC and CCI2* level at events on both British soil as well as overseas by the third week of October 2015.