HOYS 2018: Jessica Howard takes the Blue Chip Pony Newcomers Champion title

Cambridgeshire’s Jessica Howard produced a nerveless performance to win the Blue Chip Pony Newcomers Championship on day two of Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham. Almost half of the 24 starters jumped clear, setting up a jump-off that did not disappoint in terms of its intensity and exhilarating speed.

Despite being last to go in the jump-off, Bedfordshire-based Jessica, riding Tinkas Gentleman Jim, kept her composure to clip almost half a second off the previous leader’s time set by Shropshire’s Lily Freeman-Attwood on Capability Brown.

Essex’s Courtney Young and Sky VI finished third, with Berkshire’s Tatiane Mauree and Horseabout Zizu taking fourth and Wiltshire’s Lila Bremner, daughter of comedian and impressionist Rory Bremner, securing fifth spot aboard Lapislazuli.

Reflecting on her victory, Jessica said: “It took a while to qualify, but we got there in the end. It’s insane to win it. It’s just totally unreal. If someone had told me last year that I would win this class this year, I would have laughed. I would have said ‘no way’.

“We’ve had quite a journey together, but he has really come into his own and is really confident now; I am so happy with him. He always rises to the occasion. He is such a careful pony, and he looks after himself, and it has just been about getting him careful and confident at the same time. I am, without doubt, the happiest person you could imagine.”