Lamb leads from the front on Gmail
STRATFORD’S Leo Lamb and his mother Carron Nicole’s eye-catching, super-consistent Gmail landed the Unibed – High Performance Equine Bedding Winter Grades B and C qualifier at Hartpury University’s Winter Classic in Gloucestershire.
“I went a bit faster than I should have done,” Stone said after qualifying for the prestigious Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead. “I knew I’d won as we galloped through the finish even though I was first to go in the jump-off.”
A field of 27 riders competed over the 12-fence course standing at 1.35m and 13 went clear to make it through to the jump-off against the clock with 23-year-old Stone claiming two of the rides.
Considered the short straw by some, he embraced his opening draw on the super-careful and highly-rated Gmail who impressed in the summer by qualifying for no less than three Horse of the Year Show [HOYS] Finals at the David Broome Event Centre.
Taking the first fence at an angle, the pair maintained their fast but controlled pace, taking on tight turns and, with a flourishing gallop the length of the arena at the final fence, flew over to secure top spot with 0.24 seconds to spare.
“Going first, I knew I would have to do something special as only two qualify for Hickstead but I hadn’t intended to go that fast,” he admitted. “I certainly took a few strides out to the last fence but he loves going fast and the more you dare him, the higher he goes.
“My Mum couldn’t believe I went that fast – ‘If anyone beats that, I’ll eat my hat,’ she said – luckily, they didn’t.”
The seven-year-old Gmail was bought in Belgium as a youngster with the grey gelding joining Stone’s string of horses. And the Stratford rider credits his ‘horse of a lifetime’ for putting him on the showjumping map.
He said: “He’s had a two-month break since HOYS and this was only his second show back. He popped around a small 1.20m class and finished second in a 1.35m at his first show and I jumped him over 1.20m as a warm-up for the B and C.
“He does love to have a little buck when he’s feeling well; the more he jumps the better he behaves.”