An Irish Double in the first of the International Showjumping Classes

An Irish Double in the first of the International Showjumping Classes

International showjumping took centre-stage at the 72nd Horse of the Year Show on Friday – and it was an Irish double with wins for Jessica Burke and Richard Howley.

Jessica, making her first visit to the show as a rider or spectator, had a debut to savour with nine-year-old bay mare Inpulss in the NAEC Stoneleigh Stakes.

The speed class was predictably hotly-contested, with barely a second separating the top three riders, and it was qualified mathematics teacher Jessica that the numbers added up for.

She triumphed in a time of 47.05 seconds, with Joe Whitaker and Icaterina finishing second and third place going to Harriet Biddick on Night of Glory O.L.

Jessica put her teaching career on hold three years ago and made the move from Galway to near Waterlooville in Hampshire, where she is based with Arion Stud owner Louisa Church.

“It was a big decision that I made. It has been three years, and it has worked out very well,” she said.

“It is an amazing show, the Horse of the Year Show. I had heard all about it and seen all the qualifiers and always wondered what the big deal was, but it is absolutely incredible to experience it first-hand.

“I was hoping that I could win one of the big classes. She is just getting better and better, I feel. We bought her in January, and she has won classes at most of the good shows, but this is definitely the best class she has won so far.”

The opening day of international action got off to a flying start with the Grandstand Welcome Stakes, a two-phase class that combines careful jumping with speed across the ground.

Wetherby-based Richard took the honours aboard 12-year-old bay gelding Fame, clocking 27.84 seconds, although he had a few anxious moments as Annabel Shields and John Whitaker both pushed him close.

County Durham challenger Annabel was last to go among 30 starters on Wet Wet Wet, and a brilliant round saw them finish just 55 hundredths of a second behind, while 67-year-old Yorkshireman John, who first competed at Horse of the Year Show in 1971, took third with Sharid as the top three all went under 30 seconds.

“He is a lovely horse, Fame, he is very competitive,” Richard said. “You can go into the ring with a good plan, and today we executed the plan and it worked out for us.

“Competing indoors, it is always about your control, your turns, how tight you can go. Luckily, he allowed me to ride him very well.

“He won two classes at the five-star in Dublin this year, and he normally wins at least one class at every show I take him to.

“I don’t jump him that much, but it seems like I jump him a lot because he is always in the ribbons. His strike-rate is very high.”

* Audio interview with Jessica Burke, winner of the NAEC Stoneleigh Stakes at the Horse of the Year Show

* Audio interview with Richard Howley, winner of the Grandstand Welcome Stakes at Horse of the Year Show


For more information on Horse of the Year Show 2022, please contact Horse of the Year Show Press Office, Grandstand Media Ltd. Tel: 02476 858205. Email:

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