This afternoon’s Grand Prix, sponsored by NAF Five Star Superflex, which took place in the unique arena with its moat-surround and the spectacular Bolesworth Castle as its backdrop couldn’t have delivered any better sport than it did for those watching it.
The course, designed by Rafael Suarez, saw some quality combinations come forward from those that were established with many grand prix wins under their belt to those that many would have been seeing for the first time.
It was seventeen combinations that qualified for the jump off and it was evident from the start that it was going to be a hard fought finish when first rider Holly Smith, who opened up the competition with the first clear in round one, set the standard by posting a very fast clear in a time of 49.58 seconds with the 9 year-old Flipper Darco UK Z.
Holly’s lead was short lived when next to go Keith Shore, from Cheshire, managed to shave some time from Holly’s to nudge her down a level with his time of 48.51 seconds on Djoel a 12 year-old gelding owned by Nicky Morgan. It had certainly looked as if Keith had left no stone unturned for those that came behind him hoping to beat the time that he had posted. The places continued to shuffle under him with a number of solid performances having been put in but he had still held on to the lead until Louise Saywell from Retford, Nottinghamshire, with just two to go after her, posted a blazing round to clinch the win and also claim the National Champion title which goes to the highest placed British Rider in the Grand Prix.
Riding the big striding and jumping PLS Halo Diamond, a 12 year-old bay gelding owned by Mike Elvin, Louise pushed forward on the latter part of the course to take the penultimate fence at a flat gallop before turning back and doing the same to the last to stop the clock clear in a time of 47.87 seconds. It was definitely a round that had to be seen to be believed as it really illustrated the talent that Louise is in the saddle and how deserving she is of the 2020 National Champion title.
Talking after the presentation Di Lampard, World Class Performance Manager for Showjumping said “Louise was exceptional today, she couldn’t have taken any more time out than she did and she’s a really worthy national champion as is her horse who jumped fantastically.
“It was big jumping here today and of a very high standard. The course was up-to-height and it asked all the right questions so I really have to give my compliments to Rafael [Suarez] for designing such a great course. It was a particularly strong field and it was really nice to see so many young riders, as well as young horses, come forward and do so well in such good class. My thanks also go to NAF who sponsor our international teams and have supported the National Championships here all week and the Grand Prix today.”