Showjumper Paul Crago won the final class of the day on the Wednesday of the Longines Royal International Horse Show. The Berkshire-based rider won the Outside Events Catering Winter Grades B&C Championship on Dawn Cooley’s Valentino IX, heading a hugely competitive jump-off field. A total of 11 riders made it through to the jump-off, with Geoff Luckett coming closest to Paul’s time – he finished on 36.80 with Final Strike while Paul crossed the finish line in 36.09. The next five riders were all within a second of each other, with John Whitaker, Pippa Funnell, Danielle Jolliffe (taking 5th and 6th with two different rides) and Laura Hutt taking up the remaining placings with double clears.
Paul has had the ride on Valentino IX, known in the stable as Bertie, for two years. “He was a little bit backwards when he arrived, but he’s really come into his own,” said Paul. “He can be a bit of a hooligan and the first time he jumped in the International Arena he was spooky, but he was brilliant today, so careful and quick.”
He was delighted to be able to get to compete at Hickstead, following a summer of cancellations. “I’ve got a really nice team of horses but whenever they’re ready to go to a show it gets cancelled,” he said.