Adrian Speight and Millfield Baloney crowned new British national show jumping champions
Adrian Speight and Millfield Baloney closed off an outstanding season by leading the Showjumping Business Partnership’s International Staircase Final at the UK National Show Jumping Championships (3-10 August) and were named National Champions.
Adrian and Judith Witham’s 15-year-old gelding headed for this show on a tidal wave of form, having won the International Staircase and Grand Prize at Royal Lancs (July 30 – August 1) and the field trial at Hartpury (July 25) recently weeks.
The combination, who has been together for three years, had already landed her Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) wildcard as she led this year’s Gold League and also finished second in the International Series of stairs.
“Since taking over the arena, with the help of Pam Dunning, Adrian has transformed the horse and formed a great partnership,” said Judith, owner of “Louie” since the age of three.
“Finding a song that suited him instead of the hackamore helped because he has a little more control!” Adrian is meticulous in his preparation and seems to have nerves of steel, unlike “Louie” who can get angry. The pair have been on fire recently, but it’s their best win so far and I couldn’t be happier for both horse and rider.
Mark McGowan’s international staircase final track certainly put the runners to work for the national title, with a precise time limit and poles falling all around – although a double of verticals at the edge of the arena caused the lion’s share of faults.
“I was a bit lucky in the first round, I was up with Joe Whitaker and we looked at six or eight and we realized the time was very tight,” said Adrian.
“At the fence after the water jump you had to go around the triple bar and there was a clock there – we calculated you had to be there in 52 seconds and I looked up and j ‘was gone in 52 seconds and thought’ I’m ‘I’m late’. I had my luck on the next oxer where we had a rattle on the back rail. After that, I knew there wouldn’t be a lot of erasures.
In the end, just three combinations of over 40 starters kept the sheets clean, and Adrian was joined in the second round on 0 fouls by Joe Stockdale (Equine America Cacharel IV) and Robert Smith (Ilton).
Under the table format A9, Joe Fernyhough (Calcourt Particle) on a time penalty and Jack Whitaker (Elucar VE) on two also passed, while Michael Whitaker (Q Parvarti N) also left the fences standing but got two time penalties for sixth place. .
At the jump-off, Jack and Joe Fernyhough both had a rail to add to their first-round penalties before Joe Stockdale took the lead with a deceptively smooth and relaxed clear round over the extremely talented 10-year-old mare of his mother Laura.
But the partnership left just enough headroom to allow for a challenge and Adrian seized the advantage of jumping into the final draw, delivering a quick, precise and clean clear on a spring-heeled Millfield Baloney to find 0.61 seconds off. advance.
“He was very clean at the jump-off, I think the first round woke him up a bit,” said Adrian. “He felt good.”
The horse has won a few zone events this year with either the only clear round or a consistent course, but this class has shown just how competitive it can be against the clock.
“Mark Edwards told me the other day that since I had Happy Boy (his current speed horse), who is very fast over 1.30m, I’ve been riding [Millfield Baloney] much faster – and I thought he was absolutely right! Added Adrian, who also set the fastest time in Friday’s 1.40m final, but added one less.
As Adrian had already guaranteed his place at HOYS, the wild card to lead this class was passed to Joe Stockdale. Mark Edwards also won a wild card as a Gold League runner-up, so his ticket to winning the International Stairs Series went to Tim Davies.
The U25 wild card was picked up by Joe Fernyhough, who finished third in the final, while the wild card for the winner of the British Show Jumping Championship Series – awarded for the highest points in the final 1.40m national, speed horse final and international staircase final – went to speed horse national champion Ben Walker.
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