Connie Mensley approached the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) Equine Rescue Services 138cm championship thinking she’d aim for a steady clear, and a placing would be nice.
She and Alison McDonald’s 21-year-old Dycott Masterman won by just a fifth of a second, from Bella Wild and Fancy A Baileys.
“He was incredible.” said 13-year-old Connie. “I couldn’t have asked for any more.
“At the start of the class, I was planning that, if I got in the jump-off, I’d go for a steady clear, and maybe get placed. But he felt amazing, and I thought ‘Why not have a go?’ He obviously loves that arena, and he got quicker as the round went on.”
The partnership have been together about two years but the Welsh section C had some time off owing to an injury, since which he has “come back stronger than ever”.
The round did not look lightning-fast but the control and balance on the turns clinched the title.
“He’s so dopey, and such a calm pony; he feels like a rocking horse, so I didn’t expect this,” Connie said. “I definitely didn’t think we’d win. He’s incredible.”
Raphaela Dawson punched the air as she and Jim (Cobid) galloped under the spotlights on their HOYS lap of honour after the 128cm championship.
The 11-year-old and Karan Dawson’s 14-year-old gelding had secured one of only two clears in the opening round, in which there were seven eliminations. It had looked as if there would not be a second round but last in Emily Gulliver, on Ben Gulliver’s Peppino Il Grande, secured it.
“I thought ‘oh no’ a little bit when Emily went clear – but I also wanted to do a jump-off!” Raphaela said. “I’m very proud; he’s the best pony ever.”
First in, Raphaela stuck to her plan of “trying to keep the fences up and go as fast as I could”, and it paid off as the flying pair went clear just faster than Emily, who also had one down.
Raphaela was delighted by the reaction of the crowd, and the fact John Whitaker presented her with her prize.
“I loved it,” she said.
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