Last but not least we hear from the three winning ladies from last year in our 0.85m, 1.05m and 1.10m classes.
Monica Ballard from Sittingbourne, Kent won the Dodson & Horrell National Amateur 0.85m Championship class, since her win she has had quite a year with her 18 year old mare My Amazing Grace...
“Winning the Championships was a fantastic way end to my week at Aintree with my lovely mare My Amazing Grace. In 2014 we came second in the 0.85 class so last year I was determined to win, and we did! Since the Championships Grace has had quite a year, she has had an eye condition that has caused her trouble so I made the decision to have her eye removed. It was the best thing I could do for her as since the operation, she has coped surprisingly well. We both have had to adapt to the change, I always make sure that I give her more time before a fence and if we are coming off a corner on her blind side and I let her tilt her head so she can see better.
Grace still loves jumping and it showed when we went to Hickstead Derby and out of a class of 200 we won two of the 1 metre opens and this was after her eye had been removed! She has been on great form and in September we qualified for the 0.85m and 0.95m classes at Pyecombe Horse Show so we plan to go to the Championships this year.
As so much has happened since last year, we are just going to take this year’s Championships as it comes and I am just happy to be going with Grace. I hope that the course is preferable to her abilities now that she only has one eye and I hope to be more consistent this year.
The Dodson & Horrell National Amateur & Veteran Championships is always great fun, the event is well run and everyone is there to have fun and be competitive too.”
My top three things to take to Aintree are:
Something nice to wear to the dinnerCoats and rugs as in November it’s quite coldWine!
Cheryl Healey, based in Shifnal, Shropshire won the 2015 Dodson & Horrell National Amateur Showjumping 1.05m Championship, we caught up with Cheryl to see what she has been up to since winning the Championship, fitting her horses around a busy family life and her plans for the future.
My horse Anna CI, or Annie as she is known at home is 14 years old and has been going really well with lots of firsts this year. We competed at Scope and Annie achieved second in the 1.15m members cup with 160 starters and came first in the 0.95m with 257 starters. I was so pleased with her. Elle (her daughter) had a 18th in the 0.95m too.
I only compete every now and again due to family commitments. I have two young children; a son and a daughter, my son loves his football so at the weekends I take him to his competitions. My husband often competes in fishing so we live in quite a competitive household! I am normally last on the list, but we all work together to allow each of us to have time for our sports.
I can’t wait to get to Aintree again and try and retain my championship title in the 1.05m class and have a go at the 1.15m class. Annie did so well at Scope so she had a rest for a month or so but is now back jumping again ready for Aintree!
Tips for this year’s Championship qualifiers
It is always busy at Aintree with over 80 competitors in each class, if you want to win you have to be fast, take the shortest route possible and sometimes even turn in the air.
Aims for the future
To be honest I will probably hold Annie back a little because she can jump 1.30m tracks but because I'm so busy we just enjoy our showjumping together when we can and the rest of the time she is spoilt at home eating grass and polos!
Winner of the 2015 Dodson & Horrell National Amateur 1.10m Championship was Katie Shaw from Great Haywood, Staffordshire with her 15 year old roan gelding Fools Business. The win at Aintree set Katie up for a successful year.
Winning the Dodson & Horrell 1.10m Championship class at Aintree set Fools Business and I up for a fantastic 2016, after having a well-deserved rest he came back into work really well and we gained enough points to qualify for the Silver League 1.20m at Horse of the Year Show. Although at HOYS we had four faults we came 7th which was a great achievement. I also took an 8 year old mare that did an excellent job and came second in the Bronze League.
I would love to retain my title with Fools Business this year at Aintree; he is on great form and is always so consistent so hopefully he will bring his ‘A game’ to the Championship! He has qualified for the 1.10m Championships and the mare, owned by Emma Sargeant has qualified for the 1.05m Championship.
My tips for anyone competing at Aintree take lots of rugs and warm coats as it can be chilly. Also don’t forget to attend the Saturday night dinner. The team at Aintree always do an excellent job and the classes are very competitive. The jump off’s are always very fast and with lots of tight turns required, this is in all levels of competitions so expect a good competition!
After the Championships the mare with go back to her owners for a rest until I bring her back to work after Christmas, Fools Business will also have a rest. Both horses have qualified for the 2017 a Championship in April so I will bring them back to work in January and look ahead to the Championships.