23 September 2021
Isabel White has a serious eventing star of the future on her hands in Kuno SMH, who won the Sulby Hall Stud six-year-old event horse championship at the prestigious NEXGEN finals at Hickstead, West Sussex, today.
The Grand Slam VDL son, known at home as “Rolex”, received a winning mark of 84.48 from judges Pippa Funnell and Les Smith, leaving Isabel well clear of the rest of the high-quality field.
Isabel, 22, said: “Tim and Antonia Brown brought him over from Holland as a three-year-old, and Ginny and Will Turnbull did a brilliant job in producing him. I got him at the end of his four-year-old career and he came here to the NEXGEN finals as a five-year-old. He’s been brilliant eventing this year; he’s done his first couple of CCI2*s and absolutely flown round. He loves his cross-country, and he was fantastic today. He’s really talented and super-brave.
“We had a half-share in him last year, and in the last couple of weeks we’ve bought the rest of him, so now he’s all mine!”
Pippa Funnell commented: “I loved the winner - I thought he was beautifully produced, and that Isabel did a great job. He was lovely and light on his feet, and one of the things that struck me from the word go was the horse’s attitude. He was the sort that you would enjoy riding every day. On top of that, he could shorten and lengthen, he was uphill, light on his feet, and galloped well.
“I could see the second horse going round a CCI5* as well - I’d take home either of the first two.”
Second was New Zealand rider Samantha Lissington, riding Megan Bailey and Toby Gardner’s Contendro gelding Fast Company. They finished on a score of 78.2, just ahead of JP Sheffield and the 2020 NEXGEN four-year-old champion Special K.
“Because of Covid, he’d done nothing as a five-year-old, so he’s come a long way this season,” said a delighted Samantha. ‘He’s done five double clears in a row and has qualified for the World Young Horse Championships at Le Lion D’Angers next month. He’s a bit of a dude - a proper one, I think. He certainly ticks all the boxes so far.”
This is the second year of the NEXGEN series for young eventers, dressage horses and showjumpers, and riders universally praised the concept and the way in which the Hickstead finals are staged.
Samantha Lissington said: “NEXGEN is amazing - it’s so nice even to come and spectate, because you are comparing apples with apples. It’s great to come here and watch and compare all the horses, and educate owners about what we are looking for and what type of horses we might see at future championship events.”
The 2021 NEXGEN four-year-old champions were Anna Stillwell and Watervalley Royal Guy. The Loughehoe Guy-sired gelding, owned by James Golob, scored 81.5 from judges Harry Meade and Jane Tolley, narrowly edging out Michael Jackson and Girls Gamble (81).
Anna, who rides for Tristram and Connie Owers’ Stanton Park Stud, said: “We’ve only had him in the yard for a couple of weeks. He’s had very few outings, yet he’s been so good today - he jumped so confidently, and I’m super-proud of him. He’s a very chilled character who loves the attention he’s getting now!”
Tristram added: “This series is a great concept and gives these young horses such an excellent grounding.”
Michael Jackson, who also finished fourth on Clemmie Fraser and Pippa Hornby’s One Fine Day, said: “Girls Gamble is an athlete; very loose in his paces, jumps like a cat and has all the attributes you’d want from a horse to be able to train for the future.”
Both of Michael’s horses came from fellow event rider Jodie Amos, who bred One Fine Day and found Girls Gamble in Ireland.
Sandwiched between Michael’s rides in third was Eliza Stoddart, who scored 79.5 on the Global Champion TN mare Magical Touch.
Judge Harry Meade said: “In these classes you are looking for the all-round event horse with the future in mind, and the winner didn’t have a weakness. He was an athletic type with good paces, a lovely jump and a great attitude. You could see him going up the grades in the future.”
All the action from the NEXGEN finals (23-25 September) can be viewed live on ClipMyHorse.tv. There is also an auction of some of the finalists, which concludes at 8pm on Saturday, 25 September, for which bidding can be done via ClipMyHorse.tv.
The attached pictures of Watervalley Royal Guy and Kuno SMH are free to use, but please credit 1st Class Images.
For press inquiries, contact Catherine Austen. Tel: 07711362832, email: firstname.lastname@example.org