Thursday, August 28, 2014
A team of jockeys was pipped at the post at Bicton Arena’s Charity Challenge leaving the show jumpers triumphant in a thrilling competition that kept a huge audience enthralled, writes Lucy Johnson.
Eight teams contested the annual event, held in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund and this year sponsored by Betfair, with riders from the equestrian disciplines of eventing, racing and showjumping pitting the skills against each other in a relay-style competition.
Nick Scholfield, who was joined by fellow jockeys Micheal Nolan, James Best and Ciaran Gethings, said: “It was a great evening and a lot of fun. Everyone was very generous in supporting the IJF. We gave it a good go, but it proved very hard to beat the showjumpers in their own back yard.”
Cornish riders Andrew Williams, Andrew James and Sammi-Jo Coffin and Eurig Enyon from Wales made up the winning team, named Celtic Fringe, and following their triumph, gave a rousing gallop around the arena.
Bicton Arena manager Helen West, who also rode in the competition, said: “It’s the second year we have staged the challenge and it was absolutely brilliant. We had a packed house with a lot of visitors coming especially to watch. The riders were all fantastic and all got into the spirit of the event, and everyone was incredibly generous in donating to the Injured Jockeys’ Fund.”
The challenge took place during Bicton Arena’s summer championship show that had attracted several new sponsors including Rathbones, a leading provider of investment management that now takes the name of the main grass arena.
Barry Drea and Okehurst Abbervail, a seven-year-old gelding out of a full sister to Abbervail Dream, won the Bosanko Sports Horses 1.35m Grand Prix, with the same combination also taking the Anvil Equine Veterinary 1.25m open.
Barry said: “We bought him as a five-year-old from Robert Verburgt at the Abbervail stud, in Ireland. I’m Irish, but I’ve lived here for 25 years and we’re based in Sussex, where we import and produce horses.”
Other main winners over the course of the three-day competition included Hannah Thorne riding General Maximus who won the Cheffings Equine 1.05m open; James McLachlan, victor of the Stockdale Asset Management Young Riders class riding Zoe Bagwells Never No Doubt; Clare Wilson riding Kay Curtis Mellway Precious Rose took the Jumpstands 1.05 Derby and the Bliss of London 1.30 open was won by Laura Mantel riding the New Priory Studs Fantaghiro Van Overis.
Helen commented: “Our British Showjumping affiliated shows are always very popular and we’re very grateful to those riders who regularly support us and to those who volunteered for the challenge in the evening. We hope the charity challenge firmly becoming established in the social calendar as a must attend event, especially with live music in the marquee adding to the party atmosphere.”