Blue Chip rider Katie Bradburne scythed ultra-tight turns and a breath-taking final gallop to the last to secure the Blue Chip Pony Newcomers title at Horse of the Year Show with Claire Crossman’s Shovern Inca.
It marked the second Blue Chip Pony Newcomers victory in two years for the Bradburne family; Katie’s elder brother Thomas won the 2021 title on Derryinver Rocky.
“I’m so happy, especially with the pony, he’s still very novice,” said Katie, emotional over her first HOYS title. “The atmosphere and the crowd are amazing, it’s something you never forget.”
Twenty-seven hopeful competitors came forward over course-designer Ben Townley’s 1.20m track with five negotiating every fence cleanly to qualify for the jump-off, an on-form Hollie Gerken bringing two ponies through.
Hollie set a sensible target on the promising but still novice Velini 6-year-old Velini’s Silver Star but Katie slashed the time by more than three and a half seconds with daring turns and a risky, gasp-inducing gallop to the final vertical, the punchy line executed at an acute angle.
“My coach, Fiona Hobby, told me to go for the last. I was nervous in the jump-off but even more nervous when Hollie went in [last to go on her second ride],” said Katie, 15, who used all her skills learned from racing parents, ex-jockeys Mark Bradburne and Gee Armytage. “I definitely want to stick to showjumping, not racing.”
Hollie chased hard on Jennifer Hudson’s 11-year-old Ballycarrow Mirahs Sparrow and was deceptively fast following similar lines but stopped the clock 0.46 seconds in arrears to slot into second ahead of her other ride Silver Star in third.
“I thought at one time Hollie would catch me, but I was so quick to the last and that’s what got it [the win],” said Katie, who started riding the Eros III 10-year-old ‘Inky’ in January, taking over the reins from Thomas.
“He was very green when Thomas rode him, and we struggled with the rideability but we’ve worked on it and he keeps improving – it showed today! I’m so proud of him,” said Katie.
HOYS, NEC, Birmingham – Thursday, 5 October 2023
Blue Chip Pony Newcomers Championship
1st Katie Bradburne & Shovern Inca – 0/0 30.33 seconds
2nd Hollie Gerken & Ballycarrow Mirahs Sparrow – 0/0 - 30.79 seconds
3rd Hollie Gerken & Velini’s Silver Star – 0/0 33.96 seconds
Image: 1st Class Images