Ella Clark, 14,from Hampton Lucy and Harbury trainer Lisa Davis are celebrating the Warwickshire Hunt Pony Club’s first-ever win in the coveted Prince Philip Cup for Mounted Games at the Horse of The Year Show.
Clark produced an outstanding performance as part of the five-strong side which snatched an unlikely victory after star rider Kieran Tuttiett, 15, from Stretton-on-Dunsmore was sidelined for the last two days when his pony Mulee suffered stomach problems.
Despite taking a narrow lead after the first three days of the championship, the side, which finished second in last year’s event, were automatically eliminated from several games requiring all five riders to take part.
With Tuttiett, an England Mounted Games international, forced to sit out the crucial final session - where each of the seven games carried double points - Warwickshire needed a blistering performance to stave off the challenge of their rivals.
Roared on by banks of their supporters at a packed NEC, the Warwickshire side started strongly, winning the opening Stepping Stones race by a nose from newcomers Romney Marsh to snatch eight points.
From then on they looked invincible, keeping their nerve during high speed battles of acrobatic dexterity and vaulting on and off their ponies at a gallop.
They won all but two of the races to clinch an astounding 52 points out of 56, finishing 18 points clear of their nearest rivals, the 3 W’s.
“I’m ecstatic – just so thrilled with all of them,” said Lisa Davis. “We were favourites after winning the preliminary event, the Virbac Cup on Thursday but we knew it was going to be tough after we lost a top pairing like Kieran and Mulee, which meant the other four had to really pull together and do every race of the final session.
“We’ve been training flat out for this for a full year, ever since we came second last time. We wanted it so badly - and now all that hard work and dedication has paid off.”
It capped a memorable end to Clark’s final appearance at the Games.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” she said. “It was tough losing Kieran but it was teamwork that did it for us.
“We knew we had to keep concentrating and not make any silly mistakes under pressure.”
Southam’s Jodie Amos, has triumphed in British Eventing’s inaugural Britannia League with her own and Nicola Coates’ ten-year-old gelding Wise Crack.
The league was introduced by British Eventing to celebrate the wealth of talent that Britain has beyond the British team and recognise the support provided to these riders by the owners of the horses.
“I was delighted when I discovered that the league was for horse and rider combinations, rather than just riders; it makes it much fairer for those of us who don’t have a lot of horses at this level,” said Amos. “To be able to bid for such fantastic prize money is a huge incentive, plus the league offers a great opportunity to gain recognition for those of us who have not yet made it on to a senior team.”