Records were broken on day one at Horse of the Year Show, NEC Birmingham, as Sussex-based Nicole Pavitt became the first showjumper to win the Senior Newcomers Championship title for the fourth time. Nicole’s experience showed as she entered the Andrews Bowen International Arena as second to go in the jump off of the Connolly’s RED MILLS Senior Newcomers Championship aboard chestnut gelding Southend. She followed Christopher Smith who set the bar high riding a clear jump off in a good time with the beautiful grey mare, Hornet. Nicole took several risks with some tight turns which luckily for her paid off as she came in just inside Christopher’s time. Despite having two left to jump, the risky turns cost the other riders faults and they each picked up eight jumping penalties, allowing Nicole to step up to take her fourth Senior Newcomers title.

Nicole first won the class in 2012 riding Our Duchess, her other wins came in 2014 with Tia Semilly and 2017 with HC Cornet. Speaking of her victory today, Nicole said: “I watched Chris go just before me and I really thought that he had done enough and was going to win it. Southend is probably not the fastest, but he has a big stride so covers the ground easily. I just decided to take some tight turns then I could gain on him. The horse is relatively inexperienced, he only started his jumping career eight months ago and I’ve only ridden him a handful of times.”

The 11-year-old British Warmblood is owned by Matt Pike, and with Southend having unknown breeding, Nicole admits that they had no idea that he was going to turn out to be such a star. Nicole continues: “He’s done riding club and he has hunted so he has a varied background, but he just makes it all seem effortless. We have just come back from two weeks in France where the arenas are very open, adding to that he has never even jumped indoors before, so I think he had a bit of a shock, but he has a good head on him. I’m really looking forward to the future with him. Winning any class at Horse of the Year Show is an amazing feeling and to have won this particular class four times is a real honour.”