Essex teen and pocket-sized ride take top honours in Hickstead opener

“Even just riding in that arena is surreal – I never though we would win it,” says a delighted Madieson Blakesley, who claimed the first class of the week in Hickstead’s Longines International Arena.

Her partner for the winning round in the Hickstead Novice 1.10m Championship is the diminutive Kyra, with whom she’s already formed a sterling relationship – despite only having the little mare for a month.

Previously, the seven-year-old mare had been piloted by young rider Will Rekert, with whom she won last year’s I.C.E. Horseboxes Novice Championship. “So there was quite a lot of pressure, because I know she can do it,” says Madieson with a laugh.

Partnership, and the trust and communication that come along with it, are the keystone of success in showjumping, but despite their short and sweet relationship so far, 19-year-old Madieson and Kyra sang from the same hymn sheet the whole way around the tough track.

“She was a little bit strong when I first got her, and I messed around with bits for a while, but I’ve got the hang of her now,” says Madieson, an alumnus of Raleigh’s Sweyne Park School. “We haven’t done too much together; this is only our fourth show, but she’s awesome.”

Unlike many competitors at Hickstead, who campaign expansive strings of horses, Kyra is Madieson’s only horse – “So she gets very spoiled,” laughs the rider. When she’s not training and competing, Madieson assists with the family mechanics business, which allows her the wiggle room in her schedule to fit in a busy calendar of competitions. It’s a balancing act, but it’s already paying off – and as Hickstead’s 60th anniversary Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting gets underway, she’s already got her eyes on the next prize. Next up? The 1.20m classes tomorrow and, if all goes well, a return to the sport’s most famous arena.