Jay Halim and Winning Moon eclipse their rivals

A first international win for Jay Halim brought today's action at the Prenetics Royal International Horse Show to a close

Jay Halim Winning Moon

Jay Halim scored his first international win at Hickstead today in the Prenetics July Stakes.

A huge field of 70 starters came forward for the class, with many of showjumping’s leading national talents among them. But it was a rider best known in the sport of eventing who set the pace early on, with Olympic rider Gemma Tattersall producing a double clear in a time of 30.37sec to go into the lead.

But when Jay – a former event rider who now focuses on pure showjumping - rode into the arena, it was obvious he meant business and he kept up a relentless pace to cross the finish in a time of 28.90sec. As it was a two-phase class, where each rider who jumps clear immediately progresses to the timed phase of their round, Jay then had a nervous wait with 40 combinations still to go. But while many produced fast double clears no one else got close to a sub-30 time – leaving Jay first, with Gemma and MGH Candy Girl holding on to second and Harriet Biddick (Grey Fortune) taking third place.

“To be honest, I came out of the ring and thought I’d end up second or third,” said Jay. “I could have been tighter to the red double, which was three fences from home, but the mare is really fast and covers the ground naturally. She’s got a big step; it’s quite deceptive because she’s a smaller horse.”

Although Jay won a title at last year’s Science Supplements All England Jumping Championships, this was his first ever international win at Hickstead. “A few years ago I thought I was going to win the Tom Hudson class at the Derby Meeting, but the last rider went in and beat me into second. I was gutted and it still gripes me to this day! So it’s really lovely to win here, and I’m very lucky that we come here and get to ride in this amazing arena. Hickstead is like being at home for me, I love it here. It’s a really special, family-run event.” 

Jay got the ride on the 11-year-old mare at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and she is owned by a good friend of his who lives in Majorca. “We’re learning to trust each other,” said Jay about the mare. “She was a little bit tricky when I first got her, but she’s just starting to hit some really good form. She’s becoming really consistent now and I think she’s getting to that point where she’s ready to step up a level, so I’m really excited about that.”

Jay has a nervous week ahead of him as attention turns to the Tokyo Olympics – he trains British team rider Laura Collett and Italy’s Vittoria Panizzon, and will be cheering on both eventers from home. “It’s going to be nerve-wracking. But they can only do what they can do now, and as long as everyone’s healthy and the horses are safe, that’s the main thing,” he added.

Watch Jay's winning round here.

In this morning’s first class, the RIHS Sussex Stakes, the win when to Ireland’s Anthony Condon and Zira Vh Kapelhof Z.

Britain’s Will Edwards had led from early on in the two-phase competition, producing a double clear in a time of 30.78sec. But his hopes of taking the title were dashed when Condon, drawn 40th out of 45 starters, shaved 0.32sec off his time .

“She’s a bit feisty, this one – she’s full of blood, but she’s ultra-careful and she wants to win as much as we do, so that obviously makes it a lot easier. She’s a bit keen, but also quite fast, so that’s probably what won us the class,” said Anthony.

Anthony is originally from Co Waterford but is now based in Shropshire. “I’m very lucky; I’ve got some good horses and great owners, so I have to say thank you to them – the Hales family, who own Zira, have been brilliant for me over the years. We love coming to Hickstead – it seems to be a lucky arena for me, so long may it continue.”

The Prenetics Royal International Novice Championships went to Joe Clayton and Conquest Z, who is only six years old.

Ten combinations made it through to the jump-off, and in the end only half a second divided the top three riders – with Joe finishing 0.22 sec ahead of Sally Goding and Spring Willow.

“He’s only done a handful of shows. I got him during lockdown, so I hadn’t been able to get to many competitions!” said Joe. “But he really likes to try hard and he takes it all in his stride. I think he’s a very special horse; he’s really careful and scopey and I really think he’ll be a top Grand Prix horse.”

Joe made a bit of a last-minute decision to go for the Championship, which certainly paid off. “I jumped in a couple of small classes earlier on in the week, and I didn’t really aim him for this, but he qualified yesterday so I thought I’d give it a go,” he added.

For all showjumping results, click here.

Tickets for the Prenetics Royal International Horse Show (21-25 July) are on sale now, costing £15 per adult, £10 concessions and under-16s going free. Visit the Box Office. 

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