Holly targets GB team return after Horse of the Year Show win

Holly with talented all-rounder Quality Old Joker following their Horse of the Year Show triumph EMN-171018-115115002
Holly with talented all-rounder Quality Old Joker following their Horse of the Year Show triumph EMN-171018-115115002
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Show jumper Holly Smith is targeting a return to the big time after riding to victory against an elite field at the Horse of the Year Show.

Holly broke into the British show jumping team in 2014 under her maiden name Gillott with her star mount Dougie Douglas.

The pair were involved in four Nations Cup squads in their four years together, but the Wymeswold rider then decided to sell the highly-rated 10-year-old to allow her to invest in more horsepower.

The Irish-bred gelding fetched 1.4 million euros when bought for an American rider in November 2015.

The tough decision already seems to be paying off, and in Quality Old Joker she seems to have found a new leading light.

The nine-year-old bay gelding underlined his versatility by winning the Zinc Management Speed Horse of the Year title at the world famous show in Birmingham.

Holly said: “I think it’s realistically going to be a couple of years before I can do anything serious.

“But I would like to think I can get on a couple of teams next year, then a year later, hopefully back in the big time.

“All the horses are confident and going well, and to have a couple of wins under my belt this week is great.”

Quality Old Joker had already tasted success at two-star grand prix level and in last year’s Horse of the Year Show puissance before adding a prestigious speed class to the portfolio, together with a £4,620 prize.

“It’s absolutely fantastic,” Holly said. “I am thrilled with the horse.

“He is a massive horse and he is so versatile.

“He was third in the Hickstead Derby this year, he has won a two-star grand prix, he can win a speed class, a puissance; he can do anything.

“To win this and to have shared in winning a class earlier this week is great.

“We have got some of the best riders in the world here. It’s great to be jumping against them again and to be beating them is even better.”

Holly’s time of 61.24 seconds saw her home by just eight-hundredths-of-a-second from Belgium’s Francois Mathy Jr riding Casanova de L’Herse.

Irish Nations Cup rider Shane Breen completed the top three aboard Hallowberry Cruz.

“I did five strides to the last, which I think gained me some time, but I thought I might get overtaken,” added Holly, who broke her leg earlier this year.

“There was a run of four or five riders towards the end, but they had fences down.”