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Speedy Stevens takes Eventing Grand Prix title at Bolesworth

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On 13 June, all eyes were on the JCL Insurance Brokers Eventing Grand Prix at the Bolesworth International Equestrian Summer Festival, presented by Al Shira’aa, with 40 entries from the world of eventing, including Olympic long-listed rider Emily King and renowned international showjumpers Jay Halim and Alfie Bradstock.

Also taking part were former Eventing Grand Prix champions of the Hickstead Eventers Challenge, including Fred Scala and Nicky Hill, as well as Gemma Stevens, who won the Bolesworth Eventing Grand Prix in 2019 and finished second in 2023.

Badminton course designer Eric Winter created a challenging round that included a mix of showjumps and cross-country fences to test the adaptability of the horses and their riders while also ensuring their safety. Time penalties were given for fallen fences and Eric introduced a controversial flag penalty that required real precision on tight turns. Additionally, a ‘joker’ fence offered riders a chance to reduce their penalties by five points if jumped clear.

The class featured both individual competitors and teams made up of four event riders and their horses. The snaking course of fences proved to be a brilliant test of stride and pace adaptability, challenging the riders to maintain accuracy and control if they were to get around it clear.

The competition was fierce, with many clear rounds, a few poles down and even a dramatic tack malfunction that cost Jay Halim a top placing. From the final 15 competitors, Nicole Mills and Fearless W provisionally claimed the top spot with a time of 86.38, only to be overtaken by Ireland’s Megan Healy on Think It Over, who posted a time of 85.48.

Last to go was Great Britain’s Gemma Stevens riding Johan-Some. Known for her accurate and speedy cross-country riding, Gemma delivered a near-perfect round despite rolling a rail. However, by clearing the joker fence, she managed to reduce her overall time penalties, securing the win with a time of 83.13.

Following her victory, Gemma said, “I absolutely love riding in these classes. It suits my style, and I’m thrilled for Johan-Some and his owners – they deserve this win more than I do. I focused on keeping the round smooth, looking early on all my turns, and Johan-Some was so quick and clean. I’m thrilled!

She also praised Eric Winter’s course design, especially for its safety and the fact it truly tested the partnership between horse and rider.

Johan-Some, a 10-year-old gelding owned by Linda Allen, previously evented at 4* level and was once an Olympic hopeful. However, following an injury and a slow rehabilitation, he transitioned to classes such as the Eventing Grand Prix and showjumping. This year, he has already qualified for the Horse of the Year Show, having won the ticket in the Grade C qualifier at the South of England Show.

The team competition was won by Team Charles Owen, featuring Sarah Bullimore, Lucy Stimson, Morven Pringle and Emily Gieron.


Photo Credit: 1st Class Images / Boleswort

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