This prestigious Grand Prix with a €150,000 prizefund was first held in 1911, and it remains a class that every top showjumper wants to win. This year it was the turn of rising star Jochems, who will celebrate his 23rd birthday on the final day of the show (Sunday 29 July).
It is the first season that the rider has competed at Hickstead, and indeed his first season contesting five-star international shows. Despite the disadvantage of going first in the jump-off, Kevin clocked up a fast clear in a time of 50.35sec with the 11-year-old Captain Cooper, and none of the other six riders to follow him could catch his time.
“I had a very, very good feeling about my horse today. The jump-offs were very long lines which suits my horse, so I went as fast as possible. When I came out I said, ‘I think that is quick enough’,” said Kevin.
“I can’t quite describe the feeling – I already feel very honoured to be here at Hickstead and to be in the [Nations Cup] team on Sunday. It’s incredible that my name is going to be on this trophy alongside these names and I’m part of that now.
“My parents are farmers and I’ve been riding ponies since I was six. About a year ago I moved to be based with Leon Thijssen, and I now have a couple of great horses and some great opportunities.”
Italy’s Massimo Grossato and Great Britain’s Amanda Derbyshire took second and third place respectively. Like Kevin, both riders were making their debut at this showground.
“This is his first five-star Grand Prix and I couldn’t be happier with him,” said Amanda. “The advice from Nick Skelton was go in to win it and I thought I was really fast but obviously I wasn’t!”
In the Bunn Leisure International Stakes, Great Britain’s Joe Clayton took the spoils on Carolus K DHI, keeping Ireland’s Trevor Breen and Noble Warrior in second place.
Carolus K DHI lives with his owner Jane Heerbeck, who lives about five minutes away from Joe’s new base in Melton Mowbray, and Joe only rides the horse at shows.
“It was all down to the horse – I didn’t think I gave it the best ride, but he is naturally quick, and he gives you confidence because you know you can trust him to the fences. He loves that Arena – he loves big open spaces where he can run and jump.”
Britain’s William Funnell, who finished on just one time fault in the King’s Cup with his Al Shira’aa Derby winner Billy Buckingham, did secure a win in the Old Lodge International 7 & 8 Year Old qualifier with the seven-year-old Billy Kodak.
He has shared the ride with stable jockey Lucy Townley (nee Bunn), and describes the horse as “definitely one I’d like to keep”.
Kilkenny-based rider and show producer Louise Lyons won the Charles Owen Supreme Working Hunter Championship title with MJM Laszlo. The former event rider is no stranger to the big stage, having previously ridden at Badminton and Burghley, as well as the European Championships and Beijing Olympics.
In recent years, after having three children, she’s just got back into showing as her primary discipline.
“It’s 22 years since I rode at Hickstead and I won last time back then – so it’s quite emotional,” said Louise.
In the Saracen Horse Feeds Supreme Riding Horse Championship, Oliver Hood won on Diamonds Are Forever. They have now qualified for Sunday’s BHS Supreme Horse Championship, the title the horse won 12 months ago with Oliver’s father Allister in the saddle.
The Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at the BHS Royal International Horse Show takes place at the All England Jumping Course until Sunday 29 July, with tickets available online or at the gate.
Tomorrow’s feature classes are the BHS Queen Elizabeth II Cup and the British Speed Classic, which will be shown live on Sky Sports Action (red button) and FEI TV.
For full results, click here.