Promising future for British showjumping

By Charles Taylor on |

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It says everything about the talent conveyor belt currently running seamlessly through British showjumping that national team manager Di Lampard can expect a king-sized selection headache when she contemplates her line-up for this summer’s European Championships.

Lampard will take four riders and a reserve to Aachen in August, when Rio Olympics qualification will be on the line. At the moment, she could probably choose any quartet from about 10 contenders and not noticably weaken the team.

Great Britain has never known a Nations Cup campaign like it. After Lampard started her reign with a second-place finish in Lummen, her charges then reeled off victories in La Baule, Rome and Rotterdam to take the competition by storm.

Given that current world number one, Scott Brash, has not yet ridden in a Nations Cup this year, it is a remarkable effort by Britain’s expanding group of world-class competitors.

Much is rightly made of the contribution being consistently made by the likes of John Whitaker, Michael Whitaker and Joe Clee, but Lampard also has some enviable rising forces to assess on the selection radar.

And that could not have been more strongly emphasised than by recent events during the space of 48 hours.

Rotterdam and Bolesworth Castle might be 400 miles apart, yet from a British perspective they were united by brilliant performances that saw 19-year-old Jessica Mendoza and 22-year-old Yazmin Pinchen take on and conquer some of the world’s best.

Mendoza, from Wiltshire, jumped clear after having one fence down in round one at the Rotterdam Nations Cup, while Sussex-based Pinchen landed just under £20,000 as Bolesworth Redrow Homes Grand Prix winner, and her five-star Nations Cup debut now awaits in Falsterbo, Sweden next month.

Riding Spirit T, Mendoza has made a stunning transition from ponies to horses in the space of 12 months. Last year, she won team gold and individual bronze at the European Championships for Juniors. This time around, the senior Europeans could await.

“My dad trains me, and he made sure I have horses that go a bit like ponies so the move from one to the other wouldn’t be too difficult,” Mendoza says.

“She (Spirit T) has such a big heart. She’s careful, not as scopy as some horses, but she really tries. She was jumping amazingly this year, and so we got our chance in the Nations Cup.”

Pinchen, meanwhile, hailed “the biggest win of my career” after a superlative display saw her take the headline class of this year’s Ashford Farm CSI**** Bolesworth International.

She delivered three clear rounds aboard the 12-year-old chestnut gelding Van De Vivaldi, which is owned by her mother Nancy, to power home. Despite being the youngest rider among a 49-strong field, Pinchen displayed impressive composure as the last rider to go in a four horse jump-off alongside Trevor Breen, John Whitaker and Keith Shore.

“I have got two horses that are jumping grand prix level. We will go to Monaco Global Champions Tour this week, and I am lucky now to be in a position to choose when I get there which horse to use for the grand prix,” Pinchen says.

“I would like to do some Nations Cup and be considered for the Olympics. I want to aim high. I just want to keep going and proving to everyone that I can do it. It is just about carrying on and being consistent.

“We have got a good system at home. It works well, and it is relaxed. We all go to shows as a family, and we enjoy it. We are a close family, and it is important we can all do things together.

“I have been working with John Renwick, and he has beeen brilliant. He always makes a plan, and it’s an amazing feeling to have won the grand prix at Bolesworth. I can’t believe it.”

Success, it would appear, is breeding success for British showjumping, and Lampard’s European selection is seemingly becoming tougher by the minute, but she would want it no other way.

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