Olympia Saturday: Home riders on form

By: Horse Deals

Olympia Saturday: Home riders on form
Accenture Young Show Jumper of the Year: Matt Sampson
Those lucky enough to have tickets for Olympia’s Saturday afternoon performance had a real Christmas treat. After Moat View won the SEIB riding clubs quadrille for the third successive year, the audience was entertained by a quite brilliant jump-off for the Accenture Young Show Jumper of the Year.

Seventeen of Britain’s best young riders came forward to contest this prestigious title and nine reached the jump-off. North Yorkshire-based Scotsman James Smith set a terrific standard on his boss Paul Barker’s Amira, but when 16-year-old junior European Champion Carian Scudamore put Wales into the lead with a great round on Angel, the class looked over.

However, no one had told Joe Clayton or Matt Sampson this and the two young guns from Yorkshire fought out the finish. Joe went into the lead on Saveur, but then Matt took every chance on Rush On M to take victory by a fraction.

Matt and Joe are great friends and sat together in the stands to work out their jump-off route.

"But when it comes to the competition, we’re both out to win," said Matt.
Just when spectators thought they’d seen the performance of the show, in came the senior riders for the Renault Masters. This winner-takes-all class takes place over five rounds, with each of seven riders choosing a fence to be raised before they jump every time.

Four managed to reach the jump-off over by now massive fences and the £14,500 prize went to British number one Ben Maher after a lovely piece of riding on Wonderboy.

Ben was pushed all the way by Michael and Ellen Whitaker, who both ran out of luck at this stage. Ellen led off on her "horse of a lifetime" Locarno, who gave everything a foot before landing on the back bar of the final fence, while Michael’s young prospect GIG Tackeray was so impressive and just rolled a pole at the first part of the double.
The first class of the evening, the Tom Hudson Christmas Tree Stakes — in memory of the late commentator and Olympia committee member — saw a welcome change of luck for Horse Deals columnist Robert Smith. For such a big horse, Raging Bull Vangelis S produced some incredibly nimble turns to beat Dutchman Albert Zoer (Uraya) by almost 0.5sec.
The joy for the home riders continued in the H&M Santa Stakes. Guy Williams may have been the only Briton in the jump-off, but the man from Kent — who is soon to become a father for the second time — loves nothing better than a good gallop against the clock. His eight-year-old Duhkan gave him one heart-stopping moment in round one when a major spook left them having to jump the first fence from a virtual standstill, but the attractive grey then gave everything to beat Swiss star Christina Liebherr on LB Robin Hood by a comfortable margin.