Emily King scored her first senior four-star victory with a class performance in the Lycetts Grantham Cup aboard Badminton-bound Valmy Biats.
“I can’t really believe it,” said Emily, who was also awarded the Polly Phillipps Memorial Trophy for the highest-placed British rider who has not been part of a senior championship team.
“He’s been fantastic all week. It’s his first run of the season, if he’d been a bit excited, I’d have completely forgiven him. He’s getting more and more established with his movements and calmer with it.”
She added that she rode on the safe side, rather than “really going for it”, in his dressage test, owing to the ground conditions in the dressage arena. Even erring on the conservative side, their performance impressed the judges, who awarded them a score of 26.8.
They sealed their haul of silverware with a double jumping clear, adding 14.4 cross-country time-faults to their first-phase mark to win on a total of 41.2.
This is Valmy’s first four-star win, and Emily’s second after taking the under-25 championship at Bramham in 2018 with Dargun.
And what’s exciting is that Emily believes there is even more to come from owner/breeder Philippe Brivois’ and Jacqui and Jeremy Shere’s 14-year-old gelding, with whom she finished eighth at Pau CCI5* last year, and who lives out full-time. It was a result, too, for the Event Horse Owners’ Syndicate, which supports Valmy, and many members were there to share in his success.
“Showjumping he was superb, I couldn’t have asked any more from him, and cross-country he was just super,” said Emily.
“I wanted to let him travel on the good ground, but look after him. There were patches where it was deep, but we knew that from walking the course, so I made a conscious effort to go steady through them.
“He finished how I wanted him to – he was in a really good frame of mind. It felt like he had a nice calculated round. For him, it’s about building up his listening to me and not getting too brave and onward bound. I think it acted as a good stepping stone for him.
“He’s been getting better and better these last few years and he’s always been a super jumper. He’s amazingly brave, which is fantastic. He’s like a lion.”
Thoresby’s sweeping parkland also served as a prep run of other sorts for Emily. The 27-year-old is running the London Marathon on 23 April, and her training continued at the Nottinghamshire event. She did two of her three course “walks” as runs – in wellies.
Ros Canter scooped Grantham Cup second and sixth with Pencos Crown Jewel and Lordships Graffalo respectively, both entered for Badminton, with reigning world champions Yasmin Ingham and Banzai Du Loir third as they prepare to for their return to Kentucky.
England’s wettest March in 40 years has wreaked havoc with the spring eventing calendar. Thoresby organisers moved arenas and rejigged timetables. They scrapped most novice and intermediate sections to prioritise the international and higher levels, in recognition of the event’s crucial role in the five-star pathway. Many withdrew. For those who stayed, the courses rode well.
Such had been the demand for CCI4*-S entries, Thoresby was given permission to run a second section. The winner, Brookfield Cavalier Cruise, piloted by 2022 Grantham Cup victor Piggy March, is a name to mark in bold for future.
“A lot of people have ridden him and he’s won for every rider,” said Piggy of Alison Swinburn and John and Chloe Perry’s 10-year-old, who jumped double clear to finish on 36.6.
“He’s a big horse, so the time it’s taken him to get to this level wouldn’t have done him any harm. He has been off the radar, but I think he’s one that doesn’t need to run masses, because his temperament is so good. I hope he can go to some exciting places.”
Harry King was second aboard Red Kite, with Harry Mutch third and fourth on Shanbeg Cooley and HD The One.
Don’t miss this Thursday’s issue of Horse & Hound for the full report from Thoresby.
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