Local rider Gregory Hill hailed the improving Big Ben VI as ‘amazing’ after winning the NAF Superflex Area Trial on the second day of the Hartpury Showjumping Spectacular.
The Newent-based duo performed a lap of honour to Tina Turner’s iconic hit ‘Simply the Best’ in the International Arena after netting victory and the £1,000 first prize following a jump-off that had the crowd on their edge of their seats.
Rose Moss, already a winner at the event, had to settle for second place this time aboard Carlos F and Mark Edwards took third spot on Montreuxs Tale.
Paying tribute to Big Ben VI, Gregory said: “I have never had a horse that’s jumped as well as him. He’s an amazingly easy horse to ride – he’s light in the hand and he’s quick off the leg.
“He’s 18 hands and with him you get all the size and scope of an 18-hand horse, but you also get the rideability. He’s amazing.
“The most important thing is that he always tries his best. You can have the most talented horse in the world, but if they don’t try…
“But he gives me everything he’s got all the time and I’m very lucky to have him.
“I don’t think he’s ever been in a prize-giving ceremony because he wasn’t the best young horse, but now he’s eight he’s finally coming good.
“I can’t believe it really, he just gets better and better.
“I love it here at Hartpury, it’s my local show because I live just 15 minutes down the road in Newent – I’ve just bought a place there. It’s very nice to win a trial on ‘home’ soil.”
Leo Lamb paid tribute to his mount Oldtown KC after winning the Baileys Horse Feeds 1.30m Open, with Adrian Whiteway (Dennis II) and Mark Edwards (It’s Business Class) in second and third place respectively.
“He’s very reliable and obviously he’s very quick – I’m not the quickest rider!” said Leo. “There is a really good flow to the course, and I’m really happy because I’ve not won a class for a while.”
Richard Haines could reflect on a job well done after winning the Just Poles and Showjumps Senior 1.20m Open aboard Irco Pleasure, ahead of Helen Rees (Maximo Des Forets) and Nicholas Edwards (Royal Trooper II).
Basking in the sun, he said: “It makes a nice change to be riding outside, rather than indoors, and the outdoor ring here is lovely.”
A winner on the opening day of the Spectacular, Debbie Paget’s purple patch continued as she took the KBIS Insurance Senior British Novice and 90cm Open riding Tarquin M.
Nick Edwards, who was also a winner on the first day, repeated last year’s success in the Payrolls UK Senior 1.10 Open with another victory aboard Elastique.
Kerys Evans finished on a high in the closing event of the day in the International Arena, winning the Kempley Catering Senior 1.15m Open riding Athena Ruxton.
In the Hartpury Arena, Charlotte Doel and Kato Van De Mispel produced an impressive jumping display to win the Equitop Myoplast Senior Foxhunter, while Millie Mae Evans earned top honours aboard Heartfelt in the Dodson & Horrell 95cm National Amateur Championship Qualifier.
Holly Hall and WKD San Remo gained their second victory in successive days at the Spectacular, winning the Nupafeed Supplements Senior Discovery, while Rebecca Beadman and Comedy Girl called the shots in the Senior 1.00m Open.
Abigail Brain won the Connolly’s Red Mills Senior Newcomers riding Billy Muesli, and Hannah Berryman riding HGS Joy landed the Breeders Elite Studbook 4-Year-Old Non-Qualifier.
Hannah Berryman and Billy Harmony took top spot in the Breeders Elite Studbook 5-Year-old and, in the final class of the day, Lucy Townley won the Edwards Eventing 6-Year-Old Qualifier aboard Billy Spiral.
Picture: Gregory Hill and Big Ben VI (courtesy of Top Shots)