Blue Chip Grand Prix
Anthony Condon entertained and informed in a Masterclass lecture demo and impressively substantiated his beliefs by taking the top two places in the feature Blue Chip Grand Prix in a Masterclass extraordinaire at the Blue Chip Championships’ traditional Gala Night.
“The pressure was on! I had to perform and I’m pleased to say I pulled it off,” said Irish team rider Anthony, afterwards. “I’d talked the talk, then I had to walk the walk. The Masterclass was all about our everyday training and techniques, keeping it simple and basic is key.”
Course-designer Nigel Jess asked plenty of questions of the 21 Grand Prix competitors forward in his 13-fence 1.40m track with committed lines and square parallels.
“It was tough enough with a few tricky lines and the fences came up quickly, the horse had to react, but it was well-built and fair,” assessed Anthony.
Seven found the key with the on-form Anthony and Annabel Shields both claiming two rides apiece. The battle was on!
In line for the Andrews Bowen £1,000 bonus on offer to any rider in the Blue Chip Pro Challenge top three who went on to win the Grand Prix, second-placed Annabel Shields set off at the gallop in the opening draw. She set the fastest time of the class but her eager, evergreen 20-year-old partner tapped out the vertical into the double, ending their bid.
Anthony followed up with a smooth, tight yet deceptively quick round on the Hales family’s SFS Mirage to take the lead. He remained comfortably ahead and, when Annabel’s second challenge on Carnoneybridge Challenger failed, he returned in the final draw knowing he had bagged the £2,000 winner’s purse. Could he take second as well?
In short – Yes. He skilfully piloted another Hales family and Shaw Farm Stud’s home-bred SFS 13-year-old Vincomte (Veni Vidi Vici x Magic Darco) – half-brother to Mirage via the dam – into second with a smooth unhurried performance, half a second separating the two. Phillip Miller was nearest rival to take third on Brendon Stud’s Don Royale.
“I’m delighted for the Haleses and Shaw Farm Stud, it’s a very good result for their breeding programme,” said Anthony. “This was the first Grand Prix Mirage has won but she’s been knocking on the door, jumping clear in the last four and finishing second in two. It was lovely to get in a win.”
The 10-year-old Mirage is by Barrichello and out of the Magic Darco mare Illusion IV, a daughter of Nick Skelton’s former top mare Florida and competed by Lisa Hales before becoming a broodmare.
“Vincomte has been at the party a bit longer with plenty of Grand Prix experience. He’s getting back to full fitness and this was a nice class for him after jumping at 1.60m, he wasn’t under pressure and enjoyed it; now we’ll kick on for the summer,” said Anthony, who was full of praise for the show – “It is well supported and well organised and the course-designer did a great job!”