BRAITHWELL’S Eliza Yeardley thinks she will have her work cut out defending her B90 title in today’s Jumping and Style (JAS) finals at Bury Farm.
The 15-year-old says the competition will be stronger than ever with Yeardley admitting Ackworth club-mate Chloe Naismith is among her biggest dangers.
Yeardley and Naismith are among the Yorkshire contingent competing in Buckinghamshire today for a competition growing in popularity each year.
Yeardley consequently believes that repeating her magnificent BE90 win of last year will be altogether tougher one year on.
As in 2013, Yeardley will be on board Prince VIII with the teenager competing in both the BE90 and BE100 final following last month’s qualification at Bishop Burton.
Naismith, riding Kilnamona Susie, will join her in the BE100 final.
Yeardley is expecting red-hot competition, especially in the BE100 final, with the Hill House School pupil stressing that in both events she would be more than happy with clear rounds. Yeardley told the Yorkshire Post: “I’m the reigning JAS champion and going back being the champion brings quite a lot of pressure but, thankfully, I have managed to qualify again.
“The aim is that I’d just love to do well again in the 90 but I’m aware that this year it is far more competitive. There’s quite a lot more people that are becoming aware of it and giving it a go so I think I am going to have less chance of winning.
“With the 100, I’d love just to go clear because, obviously, in the 100 it is far more professional and the majority of them will be doing the 100 and the Novices – they are really good.
“It can be a lottery with the JAS, on the day it can go your way or it can’t go your way because you are getting judged by someone else – it’s not just a case of if you clear.
“If they don’t like Prince or Prince doesn’t go as well as he normally does, then he could automatically drop out of the placings – even if you go clear. I would just be thrilled to go double clear in both classes and be competitive.”
The ‘Jumping And Style Series’ offers competitors the chance to compete over the cold winter months pre-eventing season.
JAS competitions run through January and February and are an indoor arena eventing experience with a combination of show-jumps and cross-country fences.
Combinations are judged on style as well as technique with the style mark converted to penalty points and added to any cross-country or jumping penalties for the final score.
Classes are held at BE90, BE100, Novice and Open heights with the latter classes being at 1.10m and 1.15 respectively.
All four finals take place today and Yeardley is also predicting strong showings from Yorkshire’s Connie Warde-Aldham and Sophie Platt. Warde-Aldham will partner Hotshots in the Novice final with Platt on Arty in the Novice and Highland Graceful in both the Novice and JAS Open.
“Connie Warde-Aldham has got on an ex-European pony and she has qualified in the Novice,” said Yeardley.
“It’s her first season on the pony she did one event on last year and she has got high aims for the year. She could do very well. She’s going really well and there’s also Sophie Platt, who is from Doncaster.
“She came second in the open there last year and I’m sure she’ll go well as well.”
Similar predictions apply to Naismith, whom Yeardley admits will be a huge danger in the BE100 final.
“Chloe is a good friend and she was doing BE90s all last year and really consistently,” said Yeardley.
“She has improved masses. I think it is her first time doing JAS and she has done the jump training as well where I think she came second or third.
“She’s a member of the pony club with me as well and I think she is hoping that this year is going to be her year.
“She did the Novice at Bishop Burton as well and she is a really good show-jumper so the JAS is really perfectly her thing because she is very stylish and a really good show-jumper.
“Her horse hasn’t done much cross-country but the JAS is really her thing and considering it’s her first year she has done really well.
“She could easily beat me but if she beat me I wouldn’t mind at all!”