The Easter Festival event which included the South African Outdoor Grand Prix title events was an enormous success in all avenues of the competition. With Nicole Horwood claiming her 3rd SA Outdoor Grand Prix title, this time with Mark White Nissan’s Capital Chantilly, the 3 other age categories, Juniors, Childrens, and Pony Riders, were just as exciting as the young athletes fought hard for their victories.
The Hollard Equipage Pony Rider South African Outdoor Grand Prix:
The Pony Rider category is a strongly contested field of very talented youngsters who are incredibly brave and fearless. Often featuring high speeds and difficult turns, the Pony Riders often put shame on the older athletes when it comes to jump-offs. After a successful week of jumping, all Pony Rider entrants successfully qualified for the final day of competition. Run as a Grand Prix event with 2 full rounds and a jump-off, 9 combinations readied themselves for the day ahead.
After the conclusion of the first round, 8 of the 9 starters moved forward into the second round, of which 7 carried forward zero penalties. A very strong field of riders meant that the second round would surely see many more clears and force the jump-off. But, the second round proved to be more of a challenge as, of the 8 starters, only 4 riders secured the 2nd clear round. With 4 combinations in the jump-off, Jenna Kirk and Perfect Impression, Jade Anderson and My Irish Boy, Louis Peech and Kiss-A-Me, and Katherine Franck and Bodenhausen Le Chocolatier, the jump-off was as exciting as anyone could expect.
4 highly competitive combinations, all capable of pulling the proverbial rabbit out of the hat, made for a jump-off that had all onlookers cheering and encouraging the young athletes on. The first combination into the arena was the young Jenna Kirk from Ascot stables with her seasoned stallion, Perfect Impression. An incredible round saw Jenna racing through the track with keen determination and with all the fences still standing as she crossed the finish line, the pair claimed their 3rd clear round with a time of 35.92 seconds and concluded the class in 2nd place. Following their round, Jade Anderson with My Irish boy fancied their odds and gave their all to the round ahead of them. But, with a rail taking a tumble after an inside turn proved too tight, they finished their round with 4 penalties in a time of 32.07 seconds.
Louis Peech and his gorgeous pony Kiss-A-Me left nothing on the plate as they motored through the track with several dropped strides and superb turns and with all said and done, they finished with a score of 0 penalties across the 3 rounds in a time of 32.18 seconds. With one final combination left to come, Louis would have to wait with baited breath and see whether he would retain the top spot.
Katherine Franck and Bodenhausen Le Chocolatier were the final combination left to go. With some incredible victories under their belt, including the President’s Cup victory in 2020, the pair looked to be a threat to the current podium positions but with a time of 46.39 seconds after a disobedience, they had to settle for 4th place.
|Louis Peech and Kiss-A-Me
|Jenna Kirk and Perfect Impression
|Jade Anderson and My Irish Boy
|32.07 seconds (4)
The KPC Children’s South African Outdoor Grand Prix
The Children on Horses category is a very under-utilised category in South Africa but its intention is ideal, enabling our young riders to become au fait with horses before they make the step up into Juniors. Although not many have chosen to use this great category, the riders that have, are a strong group of talented prospects.
With the 5 riders starting the final competition on that Easter Monday, 2 of which would compete on 2 horses, a total of 7 combinations fancied their odds at taking home the victory. Competing with the same ruleset as the other age categories, the Grand Prix track set out before them was the same as that of the Pony Riders, and designed by FEI 2* Brett Webber.
The first round displayed a mixed bag of results as only 3 combinations managed to secure their faultless round while the 2nd highest qualifier, Nicolas Du Plooy and Callaho Faberge, completed their round with a single rail down. As the competitors looked ahead to the 2nd round, the new track set before them required a combination of carefulness and pace. Olivia Roberts and Gallantry Canoe were the first partnership to step into the arena with their zero penalties but with a single rail falling in the second round, the pair would end their turn with a total of 4 penalties in 55.46 seconds. Following suit was Holly Smith and Rivervales Bonus Point who also brought forward a clean sheet but also clipped a rail in the second round and ended with a time of 51.62 seconds. At that stage of the competition, their 2nd round times were coming into play with only 2 combinations left to go.
Nicolas Du Plooy, after his single rail in the first round, successfully navigated the second track clear in a time of 48.87 seconds. The pressure mounted on the final rider, Janine Coetzee. If she could not secure her clear round, a jump-off would be in the running to determine the winner from the 4-faulters. As Janine made her way back into the arena after a quick horse change from RotoFlo Quiletta, she took a deep breath and focused on the task at hand.
Opting for the slow and steady route, the crowd watched on with bated breath as she rattled a few rails but they managed to stay up. As she rode down to the final fence in the competition, the tension in the air was palpable but Janine showed her concentration and provided the only double clear of the competition and secure the title of Children’s South African Outdoor Grand Prix Champion with a time of 51.45 seconds
|Janine Coetzee and RotoFlo Voigtskirch Zidane
|Nicolas Du Plooy and Callaho faberge
|48.87 seconds (4)
The Rhodie Engineering Junior 1.35m South African Outdoor Grand Prix
The current field of Junior riders across South Africa is one of the strongest this country has seen for quite some time. With top-level talents from several provinces, the Junior title events are always as entertaining to observe as the Adult title competitions.
With many of the usual campaigners lining up to test their skills over the Brett Webber (FEI 2*) designed tracks, the anticipation was mounting and the riders were focused on the task at hand.
The first round of competition was a clear challenge set as the track included multiple related lines alongside the 2 double combinations and the treble combination and the riders obviously felt it as several rails fell throughout the track.
With the first round complete, only 3 combinations successfully navigated the track clear, Alexandra Ric-Hansen with Callaho Laois from KZN, Thomas Rijckevorsel with Capital My Lady from Plettenburg Bay, and Olivia van Rooyen with Caritou Z from KZN. Completing her round with a single time fault was Helen Criticos with For Cabelle which, as history has shown with Nicola Sime-Riley winning back-to-back President’s Cups with a single time fault, set her up with a definite chance.
With 4 other competitors having a single rail down, the second round was fair game to the 8 competitors who were all within reach. A single rail can be all the difference between winning and losing and this group of Juniors knew what stood before them. As they returned for the second round, 7 of the challenging 8 managed to once again secure their clear rounds including the 3 zero-faulters from the first round which translated into a jump-off.
A 3-way jump-off ensued between Alexander Ric-Hansen, Thomas Rijckevorsel, and Olivia van Rooyen for the 3 podium positions and, while a top 3 place was guaranteed, the riders were not willing to relax and simply accept any position given to them. The fight was on and their competitiveness was amplified. Making their way into the arena first was Thomas and My Lady. With his coach, Dominey Alexander, on the sidelines watching with eagle eyes, and their groom standing by the gate watching on with great anticipation, the pair set off.
With great pace, tight turns, and raucous cheering from the onlookers around the arena, My Lady gave the fences as much air as possible while Thomas focused on the rest of the track in between fences. As the pair raced through the finish beams after leaving all the fences standing, with a time of 36.50 seconds, they would have to wait patiently for the remaining two competitors.
Next up was the KZN native, Olivia van Rooyen, and Caritou Z. After an emotional week of jumping where one of her other horses had to withdraw after a fall, Olivia’s focus and concentration were highly admired and respected as the young athlete entered the arena with only 1 thought in her mind, the class ahead of her. Olivia urged Caritou Z, A.K.A. Carrot, on and set her pace right from fence 1. All the available turns were executed perfectly and the long-striding Carrot strode around the track as eager as Olivia. As they bounded down to the final fence, an early take-off saw the pair flying over the fence and through the finish with a time of 33.52 seconds; into the lead with one competitor left to go.
The final combination to tackle the final track that lay before them was Alexandra Ric-Hansen and Callaho Laois. An incredibly speedy pair and nigh unbeatable when they are in form. After coming into the final competition as the second-highest qualifiers, both horse and rider looked to have their game faces on. The pair began with great enthusiasm and continued that way through the remaining fences but as they pushed for the final fence, a single toe on the rail saw it falling to the ground, and with a great collective “aw” from the onlookers, Alexandra concluded her round with 4 penalties and a time of 36.19 seconds.
A spectacular competition was completed as Olivia van Rooyen claimed the top spot on the podium in the Rhodie Engineering-sponsored Junior South African Outdoor Grand Prix.
|Olivia van Rooyen and Caritou Z
|Thomas van Rijckevorsel and Capital My Lady
|Alexandra Ric-Hansen and Callaho Laois
|36.19 seconds (4)
Congratulations to all the victorious riders and thank you to all the sponsors and Kyalami Equestrian Park for once again playing host to the Easter Festival incorporating the South African Outdoor Grand Prix.