Chloe Winchester confirmed her status as one of British showjumping’s rising stars when she was crowned national under-23 champion at the London International Horse Show.
Suffolk-based Winchester added the prestigious Dodson & Horrell title to her Queen Elizabeth II Cup triumph at Hickstead in June, with both success achieved on Avoca Valkyrie.
Winchester described Avoca Valkyrie as her “horse of a lifetime,” and a truly outstanding combination once again delivered the goods under pressure.
Abbe Burchmore-Eames, who was first into the arena and set the standard with a beautiful clear round, finished second on Wilandri E.
Jessica Mendoza, winner of Friday night’s Longines Christmas Cracker with Spirit T, was on speedy form again, riding Wan Architect, but, with the class at her mercy, hit the final planks in the jump-off and dropped to third place. “I guess I used up all my luck last night,” she said.
Six riders jumped clear — Millie Allen (Balou Star), George Whitaker (Gipsy Boy) and last year’s winner, Kerry Brennan (Wellington M) were the other three — and they joined the fastest four-faulters in a 10-horse jump-off.
Burchmore-Eames was the first to go clear, in 39.13 seconds, but she was overtaken by Winchester on 33.89, and Mendoza went even quicker, but one fence down ended her hopes.
“I am over the moon,” Winchester said. “As I galloped down to the last fence, I thought that if got that right, I had a shot at winning. It’s amazing to ride here at Olympia — you just want to do it again and again.
“The horse is a bit of a diva, but in four years she has taken me from 1.30m to Nations Cups and has been amazing.”
Burchmore-Eames was also thrilled, adding: “It’s a dream come true. All I wanted was a clear round and a rosette, so it’s great to be in the prize-giving, It has been one of my best years, but this is the icing on the cake.”
Germany’s Hans-Dieter Dreher continued his recent run of form by emerging victorious in Dhelley Ashman International Ltd, K M Rogers (Transport) Ltd Father Christmas Stakes on Callisto.
The competition — run as an accumulator in which points are accrued for each fence jumped cleanly, and double points gained or lost at an optional final joker fence — was led for a long time by Britain’s John Whitaker (Lord of Arabia), ahead of his younger brother Michael (Right Now Semilly), but they had to settle for second and third, respectively.
“Watching John’s round was a big advantage for me because I was able to create a good plan,” Dreher said. “It was a fast course, with short turns, and I had to go for it. Luckily, my horse is very careful.”
Image: Chloe Winchester rides Avoca Valkyrie in the Dodson & Horrell under-23 Championship at Olympia, by Kit Houghton, courtesy of the London International Horse Show at Olympia