Beezie Madden made history when she won the prestigious Longines King George V Gold Cup, becoming the first woman to win the class in its 108-year history.
Riding the 12-year-old Cortes 'C', who was part of the USA's victorious Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup team on Friday - Beezie was drawn last in the King George and made the most of the advantage to take the win and crown a fantastic week for the Americans.
"Us girls were always kind of jealous we didn't get to jump in this class so it's really great to win it," said Beezie, referring to the fact that only men were eligible to jump in the King George until 2008. "My horse actually felt a bit tired in the first round but in the second round he really rose to the occasion."
In the first round, there were a flurry of clears early on, but they became more spaced out until the 49 riders were whittled down to a jump-off field of 14. There were two riders through for Great Britain, Michael Whitaker (Amai) and his nephew Robert on Catwalk IV. The clear rounds were a bit slow in coming in the jump-off and Michael Whitaker held the lead with the fastest four faults until Shane Breen, fifth in, produced the first clear with Golden Hawk (52.88secs).
There was a long way to go with nine horses still to jump and Shane lost the lead to Australian James Paterson-Robinson (51.14secs). The time still looked like it might be beatable, as James had steadied into the final fence, but the remaining riders now had to chase him if they were going to clinch it. Three poles down put Robert Whitaker out of the running, but Bertram Allen came in and knocked more than 4 seconds off the time (47.09secs) with an impressive round on the big-jumping Romanov.
Next to go was Marcus Ehning, who put in his usual polished performance but was nine-tenths of a second off the mark and had to settle for second, which soon became third after last in Beezie Madden produced a deceptively-fast round with Cortes C to finish a second faster than the 19-year-old Irishman.
"He has a huge stride, he's a big scopey horse and they can tend to land heavy and then take their time to pick up on landing, but he picks up right away on landing and goes - that's what makes him so fast," said Beezie.
The 50-year-old rider reflected on a successful six-day show. "It's been fantastic, the whole event - the show, the weather and the crowds," she said. Though he had to settle for second in the Longines King George V Gold Cup,
Irish rider Bertram Allen - who turned 19 this week - did win the Royal International Accumulator this morning with Wrangler II. "He's a very careful horse but sometimes not the bravest. I knew it was going to be a challenge for him coming here with the big ring, and the big jumps on grass, but he definitely learnt from his round earlier in the week," said the teenager.
POPPY CARTER AND ROTHERWOOD RAINMAKER TAKE SECOND SUPREME PONY CHAMPIONSHIP
The Underwood Supreme Pony Championship went to Poppy Carter and the riding pony Rotherwood Rainmaker. The pair last won the supreme in 2011, when Poppy was just nine and the pony was a four-year-old. "I didn't think I was going to win it again; it means even more this time. I love him so much, he's taken me so far," said the rider, now 12, who is the daughter of top show producer Katy Carter.
"We were thinking of selling him but Poppy's still got another year with him. He's just a dream, a pony of a lifetime," said Katy.
In the British Horse Society Supreme Horse championship, judges David Ingle, Nick Scholfield and Nicola-Jane Swinney selected hunter champion Hoppy Jumping and Allister Hood as their winner.
The pair gained the judges' and the crowd's approval with a superb gallop in the International Arena. "If you're on a horse that appeals to people and you can show him to its full capacity, the crowd here really appreciate it," said Allister. "There's never a perfect horse but he's difficult to fault."
Today was the final day of international competition at the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead. This week, attentions turn to the next generation of riders with the Hurstpierpoint National Schools and Pony Club Jumping Championships (7 August), while The All England Jumping Championships (4-7 September) will see hundreds of horses and riders compete in the national classes, and will draw Hickstead's season to a close.
Photo © Paul Harding @lewishardingimages.com/HORSE TIMES
Read HORSE TIMES's interview with Beezie Madden here >> http://tinyurl.com/puatq7l