Rising British star Georgia Tame produced a stylish performance as international classes got under way at the Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham.
The 23-year-old, who trains with top Irish showjumper Shane Breen in Sussex, won the Grandstand Welcome Stakes on Z7 Caretina.
The win continued an outstanding year for Georgia, who made her major championship debut for Great Britain at last month’s European Championships in Riesenbeck, Germany.
Drawn 23rd of 26 starters, she had it all to do after Guy Williams and Cicero II set a scorching pace, clocking 28.53 seconds for the jump-off section of the two-phase competition.
Adrian Speight, riding Green Grass, and Oliver Fletcher on Garande were both close to Guy’s time, but Georgia went almost a second quicker to land the £3,300 top prize, with Guy taking second and national champion Adrian third.
“I hope the week carries on as well as it started!” she said. “I don’t think I have beaten Guy too often, but I walked the course, made a plan and stuck to it. She is a fast horse anyway, and it worked out.”
Reflecting on her first championship experience, she added: “To be at the Europeans and competing against the world’s top riders, there was so much to learn and take in.
“I have had a few weeks at home to practise what I have learnt, and this is my first show back since then.”
There was no let-up in terms of quality and excitement when the Andrews Bowen International Arena staged its second international competition on Friday – the NAEC Stoneleigh Stakes.
A one-round class against the clock fully tested the 21-strong field, and it was Scotland’s James Smith who emerged victorious, riding 12-year-old grey gelding Simply Splendid.
James has been a regular competitor at the Horse of the Year Show since 2004 – he won the 138cm Pony Championship with Fountain Ranger a year later – but he had never previously triumphed in an international class.
The Dumfries and Galloway-based rider posted a clear round in 59.19 seconds, and that was comfortable enough to overtake eventual runner-up Paul Kennedy, riding Cartown Danger Mouse, with Guy Williams finishing third aboard Mr Blue Sky Uk.
“It’s great to finally win a senior class here,” James said. “He is a naturally-fast horse, and everything worked out great today.
“I have had him for three years, and he has really come into his own. The last year or two, he has won a lot of international classes.”
* Audio interview with Grandstand Welcome Stakes winner Georgia Tame
* Audio interview with NAEC Stoneleigh Stakes winner James Smith
For more information on Horse of the Year Show 2021, please contact Horse of the Year Show Press Office, Grandstand Media Ltd. Tel: 02476 858205. Email: [email protected]