LEO Lamb enjoyed a remarkable week on talented horse Gmail to book three final places at the prestigious Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) National Finals in as many days.
The pair started with a sensational second place finish in the Newcomers qualifier before Lamb and Gmail came fourth in the Talent Seeker incorporating the 7-year-old Championship qualifier to book a second finals ticket.
And a win in the final event at the David Broome Event Centre in Chepstow rounded off a stunning weekend for Lamb and the Cornet Obolensky x Diamant De Semilly seven-year-old Gmail.
Lamb said: “This will be my first ever time competing at HOYS and what’s meant to be, will be – I’m just very proud I have a horse like him in my stable.”
“He’s my ‘Horse of a Lifetime’ and has made my dream come true of competing at HOYS not once, but three times at one show.
“I’m so excited to be going to HOYS and relieved for Gmail – now he can have a few easy weeks, we don’t have to chase any more qualifiers.
“It has been made all the more special as the day before we were due to leave for the show, I had a bad fall at home and was rushed to hospital.
“I later found out I had broken ribs and the doctors said I wouldn’t be able to ride for four weeks. I knew Gmail was in good form and didn’t want to miss such a good opportunity to qualify.
“I was in severe pain and there were definitely a few times I felt I couldn’t ride, but as soon as I got in the ring, the pain went away – it was all about getting the job done.
“Gmail proves again and again how consistent he is at getting great results when they matter most. Without doubt he is a future Championship horse.
“I think he’ll have a very good chance [at HOYS] as he’s good in that sort of environment and he’s very fast against the clock.”
In the Newcomers qualifier, a total of 114 competitors came forward over a track starting at 1.25m with 21 supplying initial clears and an eventual nine reached the third and final round against the clock.
Nicole Pavitt claimed the win on Genial Du Dalot with Lamb and Gmail just 0.46 seconds adrift to take second place and a first coveted pass to HOYS.
The Talent Seeker incorporating the 7-year-old Championship qualifier had 99 entrants as 17 riders returned round one clears to make their way into a hot jump-off, won by Joe Trunkfield on Oh La La Van Overis.
Lamb endured a nail-biting wait to discover if he had secured a second HOYS ticket as several riders were unable to displace him from fourth – the final qualifying place.
And on the final day of competition, 19 of the 59 started posted initial cleats over the 12-fence track which began at a height of 1.30m with seven contending the third and final round against the clock.
However, there were no clears in the jump-off and Lamb opted to step up the pace which proved an excellent decision as Gmail won the class with 0.86 seconds to spare.
The 22-year-old has now achieved his HOYS aim and will target qualifying for the World Breeding Championships in Lanaken later in the year while longer term plans include British teams.