The Senior Newcomers Championship was won by 20-year-old Robert Murphy – who emulated his father Peter in the process.
Peter won the same class at Horse of the Year Show in 1999 with Peloma, and Robert, who is from Lancashire, followed suit aboard seven-year-old Lightning TW, an exciting prospect owned by London 2012 Great Britain Olympic team gold medallist Peter Charles.
Ten combinations from 19 starters made it through to the jump-off, and despite being second to go, Robert’s time of 34.65 seconds proved uncatchable, despite the best efforts of Sally Goding and Alice Watson.
Sally and Spring Willow went closest, clocking 35.82 seconds to finish second, while Alice and Ikar K took third, almost two seconds behind the runner-up.
Robert, who has previously won major pony classes at Horse of the Year Show, said: “He jumped very well. He has been on form all year. He has done a few jump-offs, and he won a good foxhunter qualifier before coming here, so I was pretty confident he could go quick against the clock.
“It’s a great feeling to win here, and especially with the show coming back this year. I am delighted to follow in my dad’s footsteps. Peter (Charles) has supported me all year, and I am very grateful to him for all his guidance and help. He is a lovely horse – a pleasure to have around – and it’s a real privilege to ride him.”
Daniella Johnston produced a performance that almost defied logic to win the prestigious Talent Seekers class at the Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham.
Lincolnshire-based Daniella’s ride – 12-year-old gelding Elton John II – plies his trade as a working hunter and had previously jumped only two serious showjumping classes.
But it proved a spectacular success story, as the combination were emphatic winners from 27 starters, clocking a jump-off time that was more than three seconds quicker than any of her rivals.
Daniella’s mother Kate was a successful amateur jockey, while her grandparents Fred and Mercy Rimell are National Hunt racing legends, having trained a prodigious number of winners, including Grand National champions ESB (1956), Nicolaus Silver (1961), Gay Trip (1970) and Rag Trade (1976).
The Talent Seekers class also produces the seven-year-old national champion, and that £1,000 prize went to British Olympian Holly Smith, riding Kimba Castello.
Reflecting on her victory. Daniella said: “He was doing the working hunters, which was his main job, but I just thought to give it a go here. He has got so much heart, and he gives you his all.”
“I went in and I just wanted a nice round and try to get into the jump-off. He answered every question. I am really proud of him. We bought him from Adam Botham as a very novice six-year-old, and I don’t think anyone really knew the talent he has got. It feels very special. It was a lifelong dream to go into that arena, and my dreams have come true. He has jumped two 1.40-metre (showjumping) classes, and that’s it. If he didn’t make the grade, it didn’t matter, but he has answered every question.”
* Audio interview with Senior Newcomers winner Robert Murphy
* Audio interview with Talent Seekers winner Daniella Johnston
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]