IN a phenomenal year of sporting achievements, young Brit Yasmin Ingham added her name to that exclusive list of winners with a flawless performance aboard Paris 2024 prospect Banzai Du Loir.
“I knew we were both capable of doing it. But to pull it all together in all three phases, luck has to come into the equation – and luck was on my side,” said eventing’s newest heroine, who won on her leading dressage score of 25.2.
The 24-year-old is being modest. Luck will always have its place in horse sport, yet this result came down to skill and an ability to perform under pressure.
The pair led the world-class field from Thursday lunchtime to the final showjump on Sunday afternoon. And while Yasmin freely admitted that she did feel the weight of that expectation and what she had to lose, she seemed to take strength from it.
The Nouma D’Auzay gelding clocked the fastest time across country, coming home 17 seconds inside the optimum, to secure the lead going into the final phase.
As they cantered into the showjumping arena, last to go, the combination had four seconds in hand – no more. A single-pole separated first to 10th ahead of the final day and Di Boddy’s course was taking no prisoners. There had been just five fault-free rounds from 49 in the morning.
The packed stands were silent; the only noise was the snap of camera shutters, the clinking of the flagpole rigging and the rhythm of Banzai’s footfalls. As they landed over the final orange oxer, the crowd erupted and Yasmin pointed to her horse, channelling the praise towards her equine hero.
“When I was going round, I blocked everything else out. It was just me doing my round of fences and nobody else was there. When everyone cheered, it made it feel real,” she said. “I think this is the most exciting horse I’ve ever had the privilege of riding.”
Yasmin has made no secret of the fact the Olympics has always been the aim for Sue Davies and Janette Chinn’s 10-year-old gelding, with whom she won the young horse championship class last year, when it was relocated from Blenheim to Burnham Market. Watching this year’s Tokyo Games has only fueled that hunger further.
“I want to hope that one day, I’ll be in that position on the podium with a medal around my neck,” she said.
YASMIN and Piggy March held the top two spots from the opening day through to the business end on Sunday. Ros Canter and multiple CCI4*-S winner Lordships Graffalo, owned by Michele Saul, closed in on the early leaders with the best of the Friday dressage tests and jumped clear across country to go into Sunday in provisional third.
The scopey bay gave the fences huge air, stopping the clock one second over the time allowed of 76 seconds to add 0.4 of a time penalty to his 26.7 dressage.
The result cranked up the pressure yet further on Piggy and Yasmin. The middle upright of the treble at 10 served a costly rail for Piggy and quirky but talented Brookfield Quality – £10,000, to be exact – dropping them to fifth in the final standings, and propelling Ros up the leaderboard to fill the runner-up spot.
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