Hickstead action returns - and Smith becomes second female to win All England Grand Prix
Leicestershire's Holly Smith became the second female rider to add her name to the roll of honour in the Science Supplements All England Grand Prix at Hickstead.
The Grand Prix attracted a huge field of 76 starters, but the challenging course and tight time caught many combinations out, with the water in particular proving particularly influential.
Only seven riders went clear in the first round, with most of these coming in towards the latter half of the class.
A thrilling jump-off ensued, with all but one going double clear. Ireland’s David Simpson and Foudre F looked to have set a difficult time to beat, crossing the line in 48.67sec, but he was quickly followed by Britain’s number one lady rider, Holly Smith, with her All England 1.40m Open Champion Fruselli – and they were scorchingly quick to shave more than 3.5sec off David’s time, finishing on 45.11sec.
Shane Breen and Can Ya Makan – the winners of this week’s other 1.40m Open qualifier – set off on a mission to catch Holly, with the aim of adding a second Hickstead Grand Prix to their tally. But Shane had to settle for second with a time of 45.78sec, ahead of compatriot David Simpson in third.
Holly became the second woman rider to win the feature class of the show, after Harriet Nuttall's win 12 months ago.
"I saw David Simpson go and I thought my horse could go a bit quicker than that, but with Shane Breen behind me I knew I had to go for it," said Holly. "I've had a really good week here, and it's a pleasure to be back at Hickstead."
Fruselli is a 10-year-old chestnut stallion owned by Sue and Gordon Hall, who also owned Holly's top horse Hearts Destiny, who sadly died last month.
"They couldn't make it down today unfortunately but they'd have been watching on the livestream and cheering him on, and this win will have put a smile back on all of our faces," Holly added.
Lucy Townley crowned a brilliant week for the Billy Stud when she took both the first and last classes of the day in the Longines International Arena.
Her first win came courtesy of Billy Vitaini in the Stoner Jewellers All England Novice Championship, and she brought the show to a conclusion with victory in the LeMieux All England 1.30m Open Championship with the eight-year-old Bentley X.
Sammie-Jo Coffin collected her second Longines International Arena win of the week when claiming the Voltaire Design All England 1.20m Open Championship with Habraxis.
Elsewhere in the championships, Cornwall's Sammie-Jo Coffin won Saturday's feature class, the Billy Stud dominated in Al Shira'aa young horse championships and the British Showjumping Pony Winter Finals also took place.