Stevens is quick as a Flash to win Eventers’ Challenge

Sussex-based Gemma Stevens (nee Tattersall) won today's Ashby Underwriting Eventers’ Challenge

Gemma Stevens & FLASH COOLEY (6)

Sussex-based Gemma Stevens (nee Tattersall) won the Ashby Underwriting Eventers’ Challenge at Hickstead today, in what was an extremely tight competition.

A pole down on Flash Cooley meant the pair really had to gallop to beat the time, finishing on 125.26sec to go just ahead of Helen Witchell and My Ernie (126.77 sec). Pippa Funnell finished third with a classy clear on the experienced Majas Hope (126.89 sec) ahead of Simon Grieve and Drumbilla Metro, who completed an all-British top four.

Olympic event rider Gemma has been competing at Hickstead for years, but was yet to win the eventing showcase until today. “As my father just told me, I’ve been trying to win this for over half my life – so at long last, I’ve finally managed to win it!” she said. “It’s like being at home here at Hickstead – I live fifteen minutes away and I come schooling here all the time, so it’s really cool to win.”

Gemma describes Flash Cooley as a ‘cool little horse’ and praised his versatility, having had a busy and successful few weeks. “Two weeks ago he was up at Bolesworth doing a Mini Major and the ride and drive, and then last weekend he won an Advanced eventing class at Aston le Walls, and now he’s won the Eventers’ Challenge at Hickstead. He’s just so much fun and he absolutely loves the speed.”

Watch her winning round here.

Gemma, who recently married long-term partner Gary Stevens, does a lot of showjumping alongside her eventing career. She is planning to compete in Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth II Cup with MGH Candy Girl.

Earlier, in the first international showjumping classes of the Longines Royal International Horse Show, the Whitaker family added another two wins to their tally. William Whitaker started off a great day for the showjumping dynasty with a win in the Royal International Vase, before his cousin Robert secured victory in the Royal International Trophy with new ride Evert.

It was William Whitaker's 33rd birthday this week, so he was delighted to celebrate with a victory. “I’m delighted to get the win today,” says William, who rode Jalellah OL to take top spot above Harry Charles and Controe. “It’s always nice to get the show off to a good start – so now we just have to try to continue that!” William added.

In the showing classes, Sandra Burton won The Corroconsult BSPS Heritage M&M Supreme Ridden Championship on Aniar Cashel, a nine-year-old grey Connemara stallion. “I was champion here with his sire Banks Timber in 2017, and I didn’t ever think I’d be here today winning it again with his son, it’s just amazing and I can’t believe it,” said Sandra.

Top producer Robert Walker booked his place in Sunday’s British Horse Society Supreme Horse final with a win in The Saracen Horse Feeds Supreme Hunter Championship. His win came courtesy of Jill Day’s prolific 11-year-old lightweight bay gelding View Point.

Tickets for the Longines Royal International Horse Show are available online and at the gate. The action will be shown live each afternoon on Sky Sports from Friday to Sunday, alongside extensive livestreaming throughout the show via Hickstead.TV.  

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