Yeardley narrowly misses out by two marks on defending her title

NEAR MISS: Braithwell's Eliza Yeardley on board her mount Prince VIII. The pair finished second in the BE90 JAS final at Bury Farm.
NEAR MISS: Braithwell's Eliza Yeardley on board her mount Prince VIII. The pair finished second in the BE90 JAS final at Bury Farm.
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BRAITHWELL’S Eliza Yeardley was again left admiring her prince after going agonisingly close to defending her BE90 JAS crown.

Defending champion Yeardley was edged out by two marks in Saturday’s BE90 final at Bury Farm with victory going to 14-year-old Melton Mowbray rider Heidi Coy on Optimist II.

Yeardley thought she would have little chance of defending her 2013 title – insisting the competition would be so much stronger one year on.

But the 15-year-old and her mount Prince VIII went double clear and finished runners-up out of 46 combinations in the BE90 category.

The duo were also 13th out of 57 in the BE100 final, won by 31-year-old professional eventer from Stokenchurch Kylie Roddy on Guzzi.

Even up a level to BE100 class, the pairing put just one pole down in the show jumping phase and Yeardley was thrilled with her outing as defending champion at JAS.

“Prince was amazing once again coming second in the BE90 JAS finals 2014 and also giving a great performance in the BE100!” said Yeardley.

Yeardley’s mum Joanne said her daughter had secretly been targeting a top three-finish and that the Hill House School pupil was particularly proud of comments from international eventing judge JP Sheffield.

“Eliza quietly was hoping for a top three position, but with the stiff competition and a different judge in international eventer J P Sheffield we felt a high position was a bit of a long shot!” said the show jumping star’s mum.

“Prince was fabulous as always – he seems to rise to the occasion at bigger events! I think if there were any disappointments from the day, it will have been that falling pole in the 100. Eliza and Prince would have been very highly placed without it - she was marked highly for style and in fact she is the highest placed four faults by miles – but that is the equestrian sport – full of ‘what if’ scenarios!

“But we were particularly thrilled to read J P Sheffield’s comment ‘it is quite obvious to see that you two trust each other 100 per cent.’

“I think that says it all – they are a great partnership and we are lucky to have a very special chap and our pony of a lifetime!”

Yeardley will now be focusing on preparing for the Badminton Grassroots Championships for which the teen star and Prince VIII have qualified for this May. Yeardley’s club-mate, Chloe Naismith, had also qualified for last weekend’s JAS finals - at BE100 level - but Naismith and Doncaster’s Sophie Platt both had to withdraw. But there was a strong showing from Doncaster’s Connie Warde-Aldam in the Novice final.

Warde-Aldam and Hotshots finished seventh out of 41 combinations with victory going to Oswestry-based 14-year-old Thomas Tulloch who celebrated a brilliant one-two. Tulloch and Spirit VI were first with the same rider second on board Trewithian Bracken.

Tulloch also won the JAS Open section on Spirit VI ahead of Roddy on Laurentian Lad.

Baileys marketing manager Jane Buchan commented: “It was great to see so many riders and to reward our worthy winners. We have really enjoyed interacting with competitors, this year, and hope they all gained valuable experience to take forward to their eventing season.”

The British Eventing season begins today at Isleham where Huddersfield’s Oliver Townend has entries tomorrow.

The Aston-le-Walls horse trials have been rescheduled to start next Friday – a day after the Oasby trials start.