The last few months have been busy on the showjumping circuit for Connolly’s RED MILLS – HOYS, the Final of the LGCT in recent days and the CSI5* World Cup in Madrid. We’ve seen amazing jumping and combinations push themselves to the limit to clench the spoils. As an avid follower of showjumping as a child, I recall looking at the professionals of the sport in action and wondering how the top riders operate both at home and at shows.
Someone who has been flying the flag for RED MILLS throughout the year is our Ambassador Holly Smith (née Gilliot). Last week, I caught up with her at Fox Covert Farm just outside Wymeswold in Leicestershire –
Holly, what a year you’ve had with some very exciting horses, tell us the main highlights of 2016?
This year has been a great year. The first that comes to mind is qualifying nine horses for HOYS. They are a nice bunch of novices who did the business for me, winning the Talent Seekers on Irish (Lammy Beach), the Puissance, clearing 2.20 on Quality Old Joker and second in the Connolly’s RED MILLS Senior Newcomers with Halo Diamond. The main one has to becoming second in The Queens Cup in Hickstead on Irish (Lammy Beach). It was something I didn’t expect from Irish (Lammy Beach) as he’s only an eight years old.
You mention your two top horses Irish (Lammy Beach) and George (Quality Old Joker), both only eight and winning such big classes this year. What are they like at home?
Irish (Lammy Beach) is like a little lazy cob at home, we have to keep him motivated but really keep an eye on his weight and fitness. Feeding is very important for him, getting the right balance between work and feed. George then, is a great big sensitive fool. We have to keep both horses completely differently, ride them differently and feed them differently. Just couldn’t be more opposite but they keep pulling it out of the bag for me.
Along with George and Irish (Lammy Beach), there are some exciting prospects for the year going forward for Fox Covert Farm, who are the ones to watch?
“I have a very nice four-year-old, Manolito P who is exciting, also have Grennanstown Sarco Lux Hill, a six-year-old who’s won two international six-year-old Grand Prix this year. I think he’ll be a very nice horse for the future. Carlos K then, is a great horse to have in the string and he’ll do anything and aim for the Speed Derby next year.
There will be a lot of horses on the circuit for you. The owners must be a big part in keeping you mounted?
Most, if not all of my owners have come from hunting and are my hunting friends which is quite unusual, but it’s great. The nice thing is that they get it and understand horses which is make it easier to work with them as they “get it”.
So as we wrap up, Holly is back to work and is looking forward to Olympia where she’ll take on the giant Puissance Wall aiming for back to back wins after her HOYS victory. Something she says “doesn’t worry me”, her mount again will be Quality Old Joker who in Holly’s words “doesn’t mind as he’s so divvy he doesn’t really care.
Best of luck to Holly and all the Team at Fox Covert Farm!
Check out Holly’s Ambassador page to read her blog, find out about her first riding memory, her childhood hero and more.
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