Jack Mantel (Jack Daniels) image: 1st Class Images
Jack Mantel stormed to victory in the seven-year-old event horse championship at the NEXGEN finals at Hickstead on Jack Daniels.
The high-quality class, sponsored by Sulby Hall Stud, provided viewers with a thrilling finale to two days of these prestigious young event horses classes. Although world number one and Olympic gold medallist Oliver Townend led after the dressage phase on the lovely Le Lion-bound Valent mare Cooley Rosalent, 26-year-old Jack captured the class with a bold cross-country round and a tremendous final gallop.
Les Smith, who judged the class alongside former European eventing champion Tina Cook, said: “Jack Daniels showed a lot of potential. He was perhaps ridden a little too speedily on the cross-country, but he could seriously gallop. You could see him galloping at the end of 10-12 minutes [on a CCI4* or CCI4* cross-country course], and he also showed a load of scope.”
Jack Daniels, Dutch-bred by Indorado out of a Kojak mare, was bought by Jack Mantel and his partner Jack Thomas-Watson from showjumper Adam Gillespie last Christmas. Jack, Jack (and Jack) are based at Belsay in Northumberland.
His rider said: “I’m absolutely thrilled with him. This was definitely worth the long trip south!
“The horse hadn’t evented at all when we bought him; I think Jack [Thomas-Watson] thought he might be his field master’s horse, but not now! He’s been so consistent all year. He’s very talented and honest, and has got such a good brain. He did his first intermediate last week at Allerton and won there, so he’s had a super end to the season.”
The pair’s final score of 92.1 gave them a clear margin over second-placed Cooley Rosalent, owned by Paul Ridgeon, who finished on 88.74. New Zealand’s Samantha Lissington took third on Joe and Alex Giannamore’s Senor Crocadillo, a son of Connor out of an Exorbitant xx mare.
Oliver Townend also finished fourth on HK Sport Horses’ Monks Othello.
Samantha Lissington had earlier won the Barrington Sport Horses five-year-old NEXGEN championship on her own and Sharon Honiss’s Uvera Z.
The Quinlan Z x Andiamo gelding just edged out two horses from Wales-based producers GHF Sport Horses - Vicky Tuffs rode CFH Dakar Hill (Dakar VDL x Lux Z) into second, ahead of Fred Powell on Kingsborough Danica (Kingsborough Gladstone x Scribano xx).
Samantha said: “‘Party’ was broken-in in December, so he was a late starter. I saw him soon afterwards, just lunged over one fence, and said, ‘Yup, that’s the horse for me’. I just love him to bits. He’s got such a wise brain on a young body.
“What I love most about him is that he’s very intelligent but he never uses it against you. He’s super-careful and clever and learns from every little mistake. He was lovely here - there is a lot of atmosphere and he did so well.”
This is the second year of the NEXGEN series for young eventers, dressage horses and showjumpers, and both the qualifying format and the Hickstead championships have been very well received by riders and owners. The finals - which continue tomorrow (Saturday, 25 September) at the West Sussex venue - are streamed live via ClipMyHorse.tv, as is the online auction of some of the NEXGEN finalists.