Jessica Mendoza was crowned this year’s Dodson & Horrell and the World Class Programme Under 23 British Championship winner at Olympia, the London International Horse Show after posting a perfect double clear with Wan Architect, owned by Julia Hammond and Sarah Mendoza.
This year’s track was designed by London 2012 Olympic course designer; Bob Ellis who put together a very technical course which he believed reflected what they would jump at International competitions.
From the twenty-four strong field, three combinations went clear after a testing first round which saw ten combinations progress through to the jump-off.
Heather Larson got the final round underway with Susan Larson’s, Imagine de Muze and finished with four faults in a time of 40.65 seconds before Graham Gillespie upped the pace on board his mount Celine, recording a time of 35.86 seconds to go ahead. Next came Aimee Bell who unfortunately picked up eight faults on her way round with Cameron Poe, owned by Sally Guild.
Jake Saywell, who has recently been selected onto the UK Sport National Lottery funded World Class Podium Potential squad was next in the arena and he raced round with Rachel Gascoine’s Cantho Z but was unlucky to pick up four faults as they finished on 35.52 seconds. Graham Babes, who won the final qualifier at Morris Equestrian Centre followed with his ride Boucheron but was unlucky to pick up 13 penalties during his round.
Another Podium Potential member, Millie Allen, was next to go with Balou Star, owned by Peter Allen and Udo Oppermann. Together they produced the second clear of the jump-off, stopping the clock on 37.81 seconds. Heading straight into the arena after were Miles O’Donnell and Borsato, owned by David Platt, Rosalind Platt, Claire O'Donnell and David O'Donnell, and the talented combination posted an ever quicker time of 33.89 seconds but were unlucky to also pick up four faults.
Down to the final three riders and next to go was the youngest of the field, Jack Whitaker. Aboard Emilie Machon & Michael Potter’s Valentin R, he stopped the clock on 38.96 seconds to jump into the lead. Yazmin Davis followed with Zilverster II, owned by Alison Davis and also went clear but picked up one time penalty to fall behind.
Last to come was Jessica Mendoza and Wan Architect who topped the first round and they showed no signs of nerves in the final. Flying over the jumps, the pair cleared the final fence in a very quick 34.42 seconds to take the win as Jack Whitaker claimed second and Yazmin Davis took third.
Speaking after the class, Jess, who is in the Podium Potential squad said: “It feels amazing! Everything has been a bit of rush but I am really happy.
“It was a hard course today and it took a lot of jumping. The ones who were on four faults put in some very fast rounds in the jump-off and so I knew I had to be quick from the start.
“My horse had a bit more experience going into the ring but I’ve never jumped this exact course before so I am really happy with how my horse jumped.”
Performance Manager, Di Lampard was impressed with Jess’s round and said: “She won it really well and already at this level Jess has plenty of experience above her fellow riders. She has been competing at the highest level for two years and she went to the European Championships in 2015 and was part of the squad that went to Rio [Olympic Games] and her journey has been helped by competing in a competition like this and so this is hugely beneficial for our young riders.”
Sam Horrell, CEO at Dodson & Horrell, commented after the class; "There was an incredibly high standard of competition in the Under 23 Championship Final, and it was great to see a new generation of up and coming riders competing on the Olympia stage. Congratulations to all the riders and in particular Jessica Mendoza and her impressive win.”
Alongside the £15,300 prize fund for the class, a £1500 bonus cash prize was split between the riders who jumped clear in rounds one and two.
Final placings in the 2016 U23 Final:
- Jessica Mendoza with War Architect, owned by Julia Hammond and Sarah Mendoza
- Jack Whitaker with Grade A Valentin R, owned by Emilie Machon & Michael Potter
- Yazmin Davis with Zilvester II, owned Alison Davis
- Graham Gillespie with Celine
- Millie Allen with Balou Star, owned by Peter Allen and Udo Oppermann
- Heather Larson with Imagine de Muze, owned by Susan Larson
- Miles O’Donnell with Borsato, owned by David Platt, Rosalind Platt, Claire O'Donnell and David O'Donnell
- Jake Saywell with Cantho Z, owned by Rachel Gascoine.
The Championship is supported by Dodson & Horrell who is Europe's leading equine feed manufacturer and a highly respected worldwide authority on animal nutrition and feeding. Dodson & Horrell’s involvement of the Under 23 British Championship demonstrates its history of support in equestrian sports across all levels, from sponsorship of the British Dressage Novice Championships and the British Showjumping Amateur & Veteran Championships to title sponsorship of the iconic Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials. In addition, as official supplier of nutrition to Equestrian Team GBR, Dodson & Horrell played a pivotal advisory role in the lead up to the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The World Class Programme aims to provide Britain’s elite riders with the best preparation to represent Equestrian Team GBR on the international stage and is funded by National Lottery and Exchequer funds via UK Sport.