Ireland’s Billy Twomey crowned a fantastic week at the Longines Royal International Horse Show, claiming first prize in the €200,000 Longines King George V Gold Cup.
It was an enthralling renewal of the historic class, with 48 of the world’s top riders coming forward to do battle for the feature Grand Prix class of the show.
A total of 13 riders went clear over Kelvin Bywater’s track in the first round, including British hopes Anna Power and Tim Stockdale. The second to go in the jump-off, Katherine Dinan of the USA, produced the first double clear in 44.38sec. Anna Power and Blazer B, fifth to go, were the next to jump clear, but they couldn’t catch Katherine.
Tim Stockdale and Fleur de L’Aube then took the lead, knocking more than 2sec off the leading time, but a few horses later, Tim’s dream of winning a second King George ended when Ireland’s Bertram Allen (Molly Malone V) shaved a quarter of a second off Stockdale’s time.
Hickstead-based Shane Breen produced by far the swiftest time of the competition with the aptly named Golden Hawk, but four faults cost the Irishman the win.
The Netherlands’ Wout-Jan Van Der Schans took the lead from Bertram, with a storming round by the USA’s Lillie Keenan seeing her slot in behind Wout-Jan on the leaderboard.
But Billy Twomey has been the man to beat all week here at Hickstead, having already netted three international wins – the Bunn Leisure Salver with Diaghilev, plus the British Speed Classic and the Bunn Leisure Vase with Thomas. Making the most of being the last drawn, he powered round with Lizziemary to shave almost half a second off the leading time.
It was the chestnut mare’s first time competing in the International Arena at Hickstead, and what a debut she made. “Ordinarily horses need to know that arena, but she’s really brave and has a big rangy gallop that covers the ground, so it suits her,” said Billy.
The mare was originally produced by British rider Emma-Jo Slater. “She has done an unbelievable job and deserves credit,” Twomey added. “I was following the mare as a young horse and have a good relationship with her former owner Kim Barzilay – she gave me the horse on sale or return last October so I’m very grateful to her. She’s got another good horse in the yard at the moment so hopefully she’ll think of me!
“I’m just delighted how this mare performed – I’ve always felt she’s been knocking on the door, but not quite delivered. I’m very proud that she’s managed to win one of the most prestigious classes in the world. I had a good show in Dublin last week, where I was the leading rider – there is a lot to be said for when you’ve got your tail up and are full of confidence.”
Earlier today, Yazmin Pinchen scored her first international win at Hickstead in the Royal International Accumulator, riding the 13-year-old gelding Van De Vivaldi.
“He jumped so well yesterday, I knew I could trust him and let him go a bit,” said Yazmin, 23. “When jumping bigger tracks I can be a bit nervous to really go against the clock, but here I thought I’d press on and go for it – though I did think I’d be beaten.”
“This will be my last five-star show as I’m 13 weeks pregnant, so I’ll stop riding soon. I’ve actually had three wins since I found out!”
Yazmin plans to start riding again as soon as possible after the birth, and her horses are going to be turned away during her maternity leave.
While the international season at Hickstead is over for another year, the competitions continue at Hickstead with the Hurstpierpoint College National Schools and Pony Club Jumping Championships this Thursday (4 August) and the All England Jumping Championships later this year (1-4 September).
Photo: Craig Payne Photography