Jamie Priestley has secured the Bega Showjumping Cup ahead of Bega contender Clint Beresford on Saturday night.
Priestley, 18, blitzed the 145cm second round course in just over 63 seconds riding KS Optimus with no bars down to take out the coveted title from one of the biggest fields of riders to date.
The Cambewarra-based rider said she was stunned to topple the field, which included Australia’s current top jumper and former Olympians.
“I’m absolutely lost for words,” Priestley said during the presentations, “I would like to thank everyone who has helped me get to where I am today, my Mum and Dad and family and friends.”
“It was such a thrill to win after coming second last year, my horses just jumped so well and I really owe it to them.
“We always look forward to coming to Bega every year and want to thank the committee for putting on a great show.”
Meanwhile, Beresford who was riding his “second string” jumper SL Donato also had an excellent outing across both rounds of the main event, holding second after a clear run on 65 seconds.
Beresford said he had to bench his pair of top level jumpers as he prepares for the final round of Australian World Cup qualifiers later this month.
However, he has ridden SL Donato in the cup for a number of years and said he was still a top-level jumper and had performed brilliantly on the night to see him through clear.
This year’s course proved highly challenging including a high double rail start and some tight winding stages midway through.
The pair proved more than capable as both ran out clear rides, as a majority of the top eight dropped just a single rail in their attempts.
Earlier, Izzabella Stone had an unfortunate finish to her Cup campaign, thrown from Kinnordy Giuliani at turn four through the rails, but luckily both were un-injured.
Priestley said she was thrilled with both her rides in the final, but said she had to rein in her nerves against some top level opponents.
“I knew if I let my nerves get to me, my riding would of been different and my horse would of felt it and jumped tense,” she said.
Conditions were a little slippery, but Priestley said experience prevailed for the field.
“There were a few spots to avoid, but all the riders handled it well, it was mainly the corners where you had to be careful, you couldn’t rush any corners or turn too tight or you would have a few slips.”
She and her team are now looking forward to a few weeks of summer relaxation before competing at shows closer to home.
“It will be a nice couple of weeks and then kicking off with shows in February at Berry and Nowra,” she said. “Then I’m looking forward to coming back to Bega at the end of the year.”
Beyond the main event, Bega Showjumping Club president Brett Clarke was named the Malcolm Slater Memorial overal points winner for the four-day event riding Ron Easey’s horse Body Builder, scoring ribbons in a plethora of events.
Other riders taking home a swag of ribbons included Cohen Wade, Katelyn Staples, Grant Hughes and Bella Griffin, who all enjoyed strong rides across a number of divisions.
Organisers of the jump also held a touching tribute and moment of silence for Anna Glover, who had been a founding member of the Cup and a long-serving committee person.
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