Bell lands early win to get year off to the ideal start

FLYING START: Thirsk's rising star Chloe Bell and Feagh Delamain.
FLYING START: Thirsk's rising star Chloe Bell and Feagh Delamain.
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Chloe Bell’s 2015 is off to a flyer – with the teenage Thirsk rider delighted to ‘share’ top honours with close friend Connie Warde-Aldam at the JAS qualifier at Bishop Burton College.

Bell, 16, landed the competition’s Novice class on board eight-year-old gelding Feagh Delamain, sealing a place at the JAS Final at Hartpury on February 22 in the process.

And the daughter of former Badminton and Burghley regular Helen will be joined at Hartpury by Doncaster’s Warde-Aldam, who filled second and third behind Bell in the Novice category, but also landed the BE100 event.

Warde-Aldam, 15, is now heading for her second JAS Final having finished third in the Novice category on board Hotshots last year, three weeks after winning that year’s qualifier at Bishop Burton. Her close friend has now assumed that mantle but both girls are now JAS Finals-bound with Bell happy to call it “a draw” in terms of who shone brightest at this year’s Yorkshire qualifier.

Asked who was the event’s star of the show, Bell said: “She’s such a lovely girl so I wouldn’t want to say! I think we’ll give each other a draw.

“But Connie did brilliant and she is a good friend of mine as I’ve competed with her doing Pony Trials this past season and she’s only coming up to 15-years-old so she’s got two more years in ponies.

“She’s an absolutely brilliant rider, honestly. She’s producing her own pony at the moment and she’s got a more experienced one as well and she’s just done really well this last season.

“She’s on the A-squad for the pony team this year and she’s absolutely brilliant. I love Connie, she’s great. I think we both did our best and Connie did a beautiful round as well.”

Just 0.10 of a point separated Bell and Warde-Aldam in the Novice final with Bell and her mother’s Feagh Delamain posting a style mark of 1.00 to which they added just two time penalties to finish on a total score of 3.00.

Warde-Aldam took second and third with her own 15-year-old gelding Hotshots after finishing on style marks of 3.10 and 3.20, respectively. And Warde-Aldam had already landed the BE100 level class with her own eight-year-old gelding Tacco de Kezeg after keeping a clean sheet to finish on a style score of 2.00.

Thirteen-year-old Scarborough prospect Edward Bradley and his own 10-year-old gelding Little Jimmey completed on a score of 5.00 to take second, while 38-year-old Eleanor Mercer from Bedale finished just behind in third on a style mark of 6.00 with her own six-year-old gelding Watsisname.

Victory in the Open event went to 21-year-old Sophie Platt from Doncaster, who picked up just three time faults with her own 14-year-old mare Highfield Graceful to finish on a total score of 6.00.

Finishing a close second was 33-year-old Pauline Marttila, from Thirsk, on her own 10-year-old gelding Ferro S, who posted the same style mark as Platt but saw a rolled pole and one time fault drop them down the placings.

Nineteen-year-old Alice Walker, from Selby, added four jumping and four time faults to a style score of 12.00 to take third with her own 14-year-old gelding Minimee.

And 14-year-old Leeds-based starlet Mary Foster stormed to victory in the BE90 level class, adding just one time fault to a style mark of 2.0 aboard seven-year-old mare May Time III.

Pontefract’s Jordan Kavanagh, 20, posted the best style mark of the class scoring just 1.00 penalty, but he picked up six time faults with Sharon Bayston’s six-year-old mare Bazaars Inca, which saw him drop down to second.

Completing the top three was 19-year-old Lauren Burton, from Filey, with Susan Allerton’s six-year-old gelding Land Quest I, who added nothing to a style mark of 9.00.

The top 10 in each of the classes have now qualified for this month’s final at Hartpury, with 2014 Pony European Championships representative Bell thrilled to get her 2015 off to the perfect start.

“It was a great way to start the season and hopefully we’ll continue on that winning streak,” added Bell.

“But I’ve just got to work hard and hopefully we’ll get the results.

“I haven’t been to the JAS finals before but, hopefully, it will be an absolutely brilliant experience for me.

“Lots of my friends and people who I have competed against regularly have also qualified – people like Chelsea Pearce and Phoebe Locke and Richard Coney – and that is three really good friends of mine.

“It will be nice to see them because they live so far away – as well as competing against them obviously.”